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’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 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

Comments (8)
  1. Kevin Miller says:

    Offsides should not be challengable on a goal once the puck crosses the goal line(outside the net) or a defensive player touches the puck. Once either of those happens I think it’s a new “play” and the prior offsides should be gone.

  2. Eric Loring says:

    Why is not the same attention giving to icing calls? How many times are pucks iced before the player cross the redline. There is a grey area allowed that gives the linesmen some leeway. The same should be on offsides.

  3. Tim Fitts says:

    I somewhat agree with your argument about :20 seconds being a long time to possess the puck. But what if the only reason the Bruins are able to get the zone time is because Acciari gets to the puck first, because he was offsides. And even if that wasn’t the reason this time, it is an argument that would be made.

    1. Jon Auclair says:

      No offense, TIm, but that’s a terrible assessment. When 20 seconds elapse, there is MORE than enough time for the Senators to clear or freeze the puck. I’ve not seen one goal-wiping offsides call since it’s been instituted in which the team scored against HASN’T had a chance to clear or freeze. The way this is, it’s a bail out call for teams. Boucher has done it twice in this series. Thankfully, back in Game 1, there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn (and look how the game turned out). This goal wipeout killed the would-be momentum for the Bruins. Ottawa drops the 1-3-1 when trailing and the game is more fun.

      Human error was always a part of the game. If the linesmen miss an offsides, then they miss it. It’s no different in every other sport. You keep playing until you hear a whistle. Referees shouldn’t influence a game. Neither should these bailouts. He missed the offsides. It’s YOUR job to clear the puck and keep playing. Not having someone sitting at a monitor telling the coach, “he might have been offsides 30 seconds ago, challenge.”

      It needs to go. If this were the other way around, Ottawa fans would be hollering about a change needed. I want to see the change for the sake of the game. Every goal scored it feels like you can’t even celebrate it because it’s going to get reviewed if your teammate was offside by a pubic hair… Come on…

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