By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Serious question: Does anyone actually like the NHL’s offside review rules?
Is there really a large contingent of hockey fans out there who actually feel good about goals being taken away over a guy’s skate being offside by an inch? Do the referees really enjoy playing with their tablets that much? Because it sure doesn’t seem like anyone truly wants offside reviews to be a thing – not even the goal-hungry NHL.
The bane of the league’s existence struck again on Wednesday night, and this time the Bruins were the victim. In fairness to the referees, who were just doing their job to call the rule as they saw it in their review, they got the call right. But in the process, the Bruins’ nullified goal exposed the rule’s very real flaws.
With 9:11 remaining in the second period, Noel Acciari tipped a Charlie McAvoy point shot past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and it appeared that the Bruins had taken a 1-0 lead. But the euphoria at the TD Garden was short-lived, as Senators head coach Guy Boucher challenged to see if Acciari was offside.
The below video from NHL.com’s “Situation Room” explains what everyone plainly saw – that Acciari was clearly offside by about a foot, which ultimately took the goal off the board:
But that is where the inherent flaws of the offside review rule were exposed. Acciari entered the offensive zone with 9:30 remaining in the period, a full 19 seconds before the goal was scored. In between the zone entry and Acciari’s tip, he and three other Bruins possessed the puck. The fact that Acciari was offside simply had nothing to do with the play.
To nullify a goal because of an offside that happened nearly 20 seconds earlier (an eternity in terms of zone time), with multiple players touching the puck in between, is patently ridiculous. Sens fans were surely happy to see the goal taken away, but it’s hard to believe that any of them would truly feel good about why it happened.
The offside review rule isn’t going anywhere any time soon – GMs have already voted to keep the rule in place for next season – but it really needs to be modified. Perhaps it would help if the rule was amended so that offside becomes null and void after five seconds or the first shot attempt, whatever comes first. Because as it stands right now, it makes no sense for coaches to be able to go back in time and challenge that an offside took place well before the pertinent play actually occurred.
The Bruins fell victim to the correct call on a terrible rule. A rule that no one seems to like. And for the sake of the entertainment value of this league, something needs to change.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.