Coming into Tuesday night’s game at the Rock, no team had been successful in a Coach’s Challenge for a missed stoppage. The Minnesota Wild would have been the first.
Unfortunately, while the Wild got the challenge right, the NHL got it wrong.
The Wild challenged a goal by New Jersey rookie Jesper Boqvist, claiming that the puck had been played with a high stick.
The high stick, which belonged to Devils winger Wayne Simmonds, came at center ice. Simmonds was the next player to touch the puck, which should have resulted in a whistle. It did not.
Minnesota was right to challenge. The league, though, was incorrect in their ruling.
“After challenging the play, it was determined that there was not a game stoppage event in the end zone,” announced referee Brad Meier. “We have a good goal”
Only, there was a game stoppage event in the offensive zone.
While Simmonds’ contact happened at center ice, it was his subsequent play of the puck that resulted in the whistle. Since his next touch did come in the offensive zone, play should have then stopped. The stoppage – not the high stick – did come in the offensive zone.
The NHL later released a clarification on the play, confirming the incorrect ruling.
Minnesota issued a Coach’s Challenge for a missed stoppage event prior to the New Jersey goal at 12:44 of the first period. Since New Jersey’s Wayne Simmonds high sticked the puck in the neutral zone and then played the puck in the attacking zone, a missed game stoppage event occurred. Minnesota’s challenge should have resulted in the New Jersey goal being disallowed.
Not only did New Jersey’s goal count, but they also found themselves on the power play due to the Wild’s failed challenge.
Rule 38.10 is in play here, covering the criteria for missed stoppages.
The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the On-Ice Official(s), determines that the play should have been stopped but was not at some point after the puck entered the attacking zone but prior to the goal being scored; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.
Potential infractions that would require a play stoppage in the offensive zone include, but may not be limited to: Hand Pass (Rule 79); High-Sticking the Puck (Rule 80); and Puck Out of Bounds (Rule 85). Such infractions will only serve as a basis for overturning a GOAL call on the ice if video review can conclusively establish that a game stoppage event had occurred in the offensive zone and was missed by the On-Ice Official(s).
Note that it doesn’t specify where the action took place, only where the stoppage should have occurred — which was the offensive zone.
“I didn’t need the league to tell me they made a mistake,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau. “They said the league made a mistake and that was it. We knew the rule and we called it and I was a little shocked when they said … I think they said it’s an unchallengeable thing.”
The league sent out a memo just prior to the start of the season including this particular scenario as an example of application of the new Missed Stoppage criteria for a Coach’s Challenge, as pointed out by The Athletic’s Michael Russo.
Clarification – High-Sticked Pucks: If the missed game stoppage is a high-sticked puck committed by the attacking player from the neutral zone to himself or a teammate in the offensive zone – a Coach’s Challenge by the defending team would be successful. While the puck was high-sticked in the neutral zone, the rule infraction does not occur until that player or a teammate touches the puck in the offensive zone.
Ultimately, the league got the call right, though it was too late to help the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. To their credit, they killed off the resulting power play and went on to defeat the Devils 3-2.
The Wild won the game… and they should’ve won the challenge.