Boston Bruins’ play-by-play man Jack Edwards was fired up after a Columbus goal gave the Blue Jackets a 5-2 lead over the Bruins. He wasn’t as steamed up about the goal itself as he was about the fact that he felt play should have stopped well before that goal ever happened.

“This doesn’t exist,” said Edward. “This is quantum physics hockey.”

The on-ice officials missed the puck deflecting out of play and hitting the protective netting. Per Rule 85.1, “if the puck striking the spectator netting goes unnoticed by the on-ice officials, play shall continue as normal and resulting play with the puck shall be deemed a legitimate play.”

The players played on – for over a minute – after the puck left the playing surface.  Eventually, it made its way to Columbus forward Matt Calvert who put it in the net.

Edwards cites that this was the same exact situation that cost the Kings the game against Detroit in January. Not quite. That puck’s bounce off the netting led directly to a goal. This one led to 85 seconds of back and forth hockey before the Blue Jackets scored.

Since the Kings/Wings debacle, the NHL amended the rulebook to expand what could be considered in video reviews. Rule 38.4 (viii) now allows for reviews of “pucks that hit the spectator netting prior to being directed into the goal.”

The question then becomes how much time can elapse between the puck out of play and the goal being scored. Based on a previous ruling, it’s less than a rodeo ride.

A similar play happened last month, when Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars nearly scored a goal after the puck came off the netting.  In that game, eight seconds elapsed from the puck going out of play until the goal was scored. That was enough time for the NHL’s Situation Room to abstain from rendering a decision. Their official ruling stated, in part, “this is not a reviewable play since the puck did not cross the goal line as an immediate result of hitting the spectator netting.”  They left it up to the on-ice crew to decide.

On December 15, the Sabres scored a power play goal after the puck was played off the netting. The puck left the offensive zone, requiring the Sabres to regroup. A total of 31 seconds passed between the puck out of play and the goal being scored. There was no review and no comment from the league on that play. In that case, the missed puck out of play didn’t contribute to the goal and gave neither team any advantage.

“It won’t count! It’s not going to count!”  It counted.  Here’s the NHL’s official ruling:

At 17:43 of the second period in the Boston Bruins/Columbus Blue Jackets game, the puck appeared to hit the spectator netting in the Columbus zone and play continued until the Blue Jackets scored a goal at 19:09.

According to Rule 85.1, play shall be stopped when the puck hits the spectator netting unless it goes unnoticed by the on-ice officials, in which case “play shall continue as normal and resulting play with the puck shall be deemed a legitimate play.”

Since play continued and the puck was not directed into the net as an immediate result of hitting the spectator netting, this is not a reviewable play and the on-ice decision stands – good goal Columbus.

Referees for the game were Greg Kimmerly and Justin St-Pierre, with linesmen Mark Shewchyk and Brian Mach.

Retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser weighed in.

Logically, if replay can help get the call right, why wouldn’t the NHL use it?  Right now, it looks like the league is trying to avoid overextending video reviews. Not only would the replay slow down the game, but we’d be going back and adding time to the clock.  Do you then review offside calls that lead to goals? Or all offside calls? It becomes a slippery slope.

Clearly, their focus is purely on pucks off the netting that directly cause a goal. This one was over a minute between when the puck hit the netting and when the goal was scored.  The previous precedent set back in November showed that even eight seconds is enough for the Situation Room to deem it ineligible for review.

“…And they’re just going to turn their backs on it and pretend it’s alright. Start the calliope music. It’s a circus!”

At center stage, the admittedly crazy, insanely passionate, and always entertaining Jack Edwards!