There’s a lot of challenges when using video replay to determine a goal. You’ve got tricky angles whose perspective makes the puck look in even when it’s not. You’ve got cameras aimed at the net from multiple angles, all of which can be obstructed by players and officials. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a camera even closer to the goal line, and with a consistent, reliable angle on the line? That’s precisely what the NHL is working on.
“We are testing and experimenting with ‘in-post’ cameras and would like to introduce them when we are comfortable that they are completely functional and workable,” NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy told Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “We are not there yet. When we feel we have it right we will start to put them in nets throughout the league.”
“The league is testing different distances from the ice level,” Murphy added, but the plan is to put them halfway up the posts.
The goal is to reduce the number of ‘inconclusive’ replays where the puck appears to have crossed the line. In those situations, without a conclusive video review, the decision reverts back to the initial call on the ice.
One example cited by Murphy was a near-goal by New York Rangers’ forward Mats Zuccarello that was stopped by Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. Referee Dan O’Halloran did not signal for a goal on the play, believing that the puck had been stopped by Niemi before it crossed the goal line. There’s no doubt Niemi caught it in his glove, there’s just no certainty where exactly he stopped it.
“The refs’ call [on the ice] was ‘no goal,’ so we have to find conclusively that the whole puck was over the goal line,” Murphy told the Post. “This was extremely difficult because we couldn’t see where the puck was in Niemi’s glove. There are angles that the puck appears to be in, but there are also angles where there is doubt. ‘Inconclusive’ was the result.”
The league is hoping that those additional goalpost cameras would give a better perspective on whether or not the puck has broken the plane of the goal line.
In Niemi’s case, the league’s hopes are that the camera would allow them to make a conclusive determination of whether his glove was over the line at the time of the save.
Another benefit of the post-cams would be to provide the NHL’s Situation Room with a different angle. It’d be nice to have a second clear view of the puck, especially in cases where the puck nearly crosses the line, as it did in the game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens:
A Different Solution for Deflected Pucks
Unfortunately, the post-cams won’t help out with one of the most common reasons for video replay this season — pucks deflected with high sticks. With the goaltender obstructing much, if not all, of the forward view, a camera in that position would have limited effectiveness. The league would have to look instead at cameras along the glass at a set height – four feet, in line with the crossbar – to better confirm those types of calls.
In any case, post-cams would likely be a big step forward in helping get some clarification – and fewer inconclusive reviews – when it comes to pucks crossing the goal line. Hopefully we’ll see them in action soon.