Coach’s challenges have been a mixed blessing. Proponents are glad to see the right call being made. Opponents are willing to cede a bit of accuracy with the understanding that, occasionally, breaks – or mistakes – will go either way.
As any official will tell you, their goal is to make the right call. If it takes review to get it done, so be it.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien challenged the Flyers’ opening goal in Monday night’s game, arguing that they play was offside. Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek carried the puck over the blue line as defenseman Michael Del Zotto entered the zone.
From Rule 83.1 – Off-side:
A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick.
It should be noted that while the position of the player’s skates is what determines whether a player is “off-side,” nevertheless thequestion of an “off-side” never arises until the puck has completely crossed the leading edge of the blue line at which time the decision is to be made.
Here’s a slower look at it:
— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 26, 2016
The problem is Del Zotto’s back skate. As the rule is currently written, the skate must remain on the ice, in contact with the blueline. (Elliotte Friedman reported earlier this year that there’s some talk of changing the rule to be the plane of the blue line rather than its surface.)
When linesmen Jonny Murray and Brian Murphy reviewed the play, they’d be focused on Del Zotto’s back skate, looking to see if it remained on the ice surface as it crossed the line.
If the skate left the ice prior to the puck entering the zone, the play is offside.
Splitting hairs on the offside challenge… very hard to tell if back of Del Zotto skate still held edge of blueline as puck went just over
— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 26, 2016
It’s a close one.
TV replays showed only one angle of the play, that being from the overhead camera that made it hard to judge. What made it even worse? That replay tablet.
It’s tricky to tell where exactly Del Zotto’s skate is on a 55″ high-definition television. It’s infinitely harder on a 10″ tablet.
You can’t fault linesmen Brian Murphy and Jonny Murray. They’re both veteran officials with decades of experience in watching the bluelines. They want to make the right call. They just need an upgrade in their technology to do so.
Blueline cameras – both overhead and along the ice – would help.
So would a bigger screen.
On mine, it looked like that skate was off the ice.
UPDATE: Claude Julien agrees about those replay tablets. “I’m still disagreeing with [that onside call]. It looked like [Del Zotto] had his foot in the air,” the Bruins coach told NESN. “But I guess when you have an eight-inch screen to look at, it’s probably not as clear as a big screen.”