By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins fell victim to yet another offside replay review in their 1-0 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Considering that the Wild could only get one puck past Tuukka Rask, David Backes’ denied goal certainly had a massive impact on the outcome of the game – and it was all because Ryan Spooner was offside for a split second.
With 5:24 left in the second period and the game still scoreless, Backes tipped a shot from the point past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk to briefly put the Bruins up 1-0. But Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau immediately challenged that the Bruins were offside entering the zone, because he had no reason not to with the way the rule is set up right now.
The replay revealed that Spooner’s back skate was in the air before David Krejci carried the puck into the zone, making him offside and wiping the goal off the scoreboard. Wild fans were certainly relieved to have the goal taken back, but the review was ultimately just another needless “Gotcha!” game to take advantage of the rules and technology regarding replay review.
Does it really feel good as a Wild fan to know that the other team had a perfectly legit goal taken away because a player’s toe was off the ice by a centimeter for a split second before the puck entered the zone? Is that why the NHL has offside rules in the first place? The answer to both questions should be no.
And no, this is not a homer argument because the Bruins lost. If the roles were reversed, the rule would be just as absurd and the game would have been ground to a halt either way. The NHL’s offside review rules are ruining the games as a form of entertainment. The erosion of the on-ice product is outweighing the need for fairness over a player being offside by millimeters, which a human being could not see without the benefit of HD replay.
At the very least, the rule needs to be modified. Spooner’s skate being off the ice by mere millimeters was utterly inconsequential to the end result of the play. Coaches should not be able to rewind the game by several seconds, or even minutes, to see if a team went offside well before they finished the play. Once the team loses possession in the zone, or makes a number of passes, or anything else that affects the flow of the game, the question of whether or not they were offside entering the zone should not matter – especially if it couldn’t be noticed with the naked eye in the first place.
The biggest question for offside review is … Who wants it to be this way? For a league that has taken so many measures to increase scoring and has even considered enlarging the nets in recent seasons, it’s heinously counterproductive to start taking goals away over a toe beating the puck into the zone by milliseconds. If the rules aren’t at least updated or modified in some way to make it less tedious, it will only continue to hurt the NHL product.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.