It's time for the NHL to make all Stanley Cup playoff goals reviewable

Joe Haggerty
NBC Sports Boston
After the controversial ending to Game 3 of the Western Conference final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, it's time for the NHL to make all Stanley Cup playoff goals reviewable.
After the controversial ending to Game 3 of the Western Conference final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, it's time for the NHL to make all Stanley Cup playoff goals reviewable.

It's time for the NHL to make all Stanley Cup playoff goals reviewable originally appeared on

RALEIGH, NC – The NHL certainly dodged a bullet when the Artemi Panarin goal scored off the netting in Columbus didn't adversely impact Game 4 of the second-round series between the Bruins and Blue Jackets.

There was hue and cry about the NHL's technology not being available to wipe out a goal that should never have counted after all four on-ice officials somehow missed the puck hit the netting at Nationwide Arena behind the Bruins' crease. There was even an ominous warning from Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask that the same kind of thing could happen in overtime with much more dire results for the league, and for the integrity of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Well, it didn't take long for that to happen.

The unbelievable luck of the San Jose Sharks just keeps going as they captured an overtime win in Game 3 over the St. Louis Blues on a goal that was only made possible by an uncalled Timo Meier hand pass right in front of the Blues net to Erik Karlsson for the game-winning goal.  

This is what Western Conference Final series director Kay Whitmore said to a pool reporter following the controversial Game 3 overtime goal heard around the hockey world.

"It's a non-reviewable play. You can read between the lines. You can figure out what you want. You watched the video," said Whitmore. "But it's just non-reviewable. I know that sounds like a cop-out answer, but that's the truth."

So why not make it reviewable, like, tomorrow?

The NHL has shown they can adjust accordingly when controversy erupts during the playoffs as they did when Sean Avery was infamously face-guarding Martin Brodeur right in front of the crease, and the league promptly created a rule prohibiting that activity. So they could institute a video replay review of every single goal scored during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and then avoid these kinds of embarrassing no calls when all four on-ice officials simply whiff on an easy call that should lead to a whistle.

It's not something that necessarily needs to be done during the NHL regular season because it could slow the game pace down, and it's a little easier for organizations, fans and the hockey world-at-large to move on after a missed call. But when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs, particularly the conference final and the Cup Final, the NHL needs to get those right 100 percent of the time, and that includes moments when video review and current technology can get the goals correct.

Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom made a lot of sense in his comments Thursday morning, especially considering video review can currently wipe out a goal on an offside play that had two minutes before the score while having nothing to do with it. But it somehow can't negate a goal that happened as a direct result of a puck hitting the netting, or a hand-pass that took place right in front of the net where the referees should see it plain as day.

"This is my opinion, but wouldn't you want to get it right? You have TV cameras everywhere. I also know that you can't challenge or review a hand pass, but at this point in the season I definitely think [you should be able to challenge] in overtime when it's deciding the game," said Nordstrom. "The rules are the rules, but you have replay. Either you look at that one, or you don't look at anything. Mistakes are going to happen. Either you review everything, or you don't review anything."   

Certainly reviewing everything might be a bit cumbersome, and one of the NHL's biggest worries is slowing down a fast-paced game built on speed and excitement. But the ability to review anything that leads to a goal should be a mechanism that the NHL has already in place instead of embarrassingly throwing up their hands and plainly stating that it's not in the rulebook.

"It's time. We can go on this forever. It's time. It's time to just get the calls right because it's just too important. I mean the games matter so much and these - I don't know, that's tough last night to watch," said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'amour. "Help the refs. These refs are great refs. Live you can't tell - I'm telling ya.

"So many calls I'm like ‘I don't really know,' I look down and I see [a replay] and then I lose my mind because I know it was the wrong call. But they can't be expected to make those calls like that, it's way too hard. There' an easy solution for it, I think, and they'll get to it because this can't keep going on. It's tough."

The NHL's general managers will meet next month in Vancouver ahead of the NHL Draft, and that will be the most likely time when this situation will get addressed as more and more teams are sympathizers to enhanced replay for the officials. The big issue at play: It's not going to help the NHL through the rest of these Stanley Cup playoffs if another controversy leads to a game-winning goal in these most important final few games of the season.

But shame on the NHL if they don't find a way to embrace the technology available to them this offseason, and begin reviewing each goal scored during their most important and sacred time of the year, the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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