This is the picture that launched a thousand (or more) howls over the weekend when the Minnesota Wild lost in overtime in Denver on Saturday, giving the Avalanche a 3-games-to-2 lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Why we teach linesmen to work the line!!! This call needs to be made inside the line. pic.twitter.com/DedbCPRyRD
— John Moulton (@johncanref) April 27, 2014
It’s not too hard to see why the linesman missed the call. He was leaning back in the neutral zone, allowing the puck handler to block his view of what at first appears to be the offside skate of Paul Stastny. The play was allowed to continue and Colorado tied the game and sent it to overtime.
The key isn’t the front skate, though, it’s the rear skate. A player can straddle the blue line, and there’s no way the ref could tell the rear skate was over the line. Can you?
At the very least, it’s close… close enough that we have to listen to Denver sportswriters suggesting the local reaction to the soul-crushing loss is just “bellyaching.”
Sorry, but there’s no way that picture makes off-sides clear. Stastny’s left skate looks behind the line to me, and that puck is about to cross the line. Did Stastny actually touch his skate to the ice anyway after the fact? Hard to tell. Either way, it’s not a clear off-sides at all. If the Wild want to blame that non-call on their loss, more power to ‘em. All I know is, after the play, Ryan Suter (if only he paid as much attention to the puck tonight as he did looking over his shoulder at the refs all night, begging for a call) stood and watched as Stastny grabbed the rebound of his own shot on the ensuing sequence, then fed a pass between Suter and Jonas Brodin to P.A. Parenteau cutting down the middle ahead of a lazy Wild back-check, and he tied the game with a shot under Darcy Kuemper’s glove.
True to form, the only thing Suter could talk about after the game was the non-call, not his lackadaisical play:
“Too bad. I mean, we played hard, we came out in the third and played the way we wanted to,” Suter said. “They missed a call and we pay for it. I mean, no excuses, we have to play better in the overtime. We got to get more pressure on them, get pucks at their net. They came hard but yeah, they definitely got away with a missed call to tie the game.”
It’s not like the Colorado team doesn’t know anything about getting away with this sort of thing.
But back to Saturday’s game. A USA Hockey ref, commenting on Hockey Wilderness provides an explanation…
Skate contact with or behind the blue line must be established at the moment the puck crosses the blue line. Every ref is taught this from year one. The Blue line is part of whichever zone the puck was previously. So the determining edge in this case is the front edge closest to the goal. (This is also why the determining edge is the edge toward the neutral zone once the puck has entered the attacking zone onside.) Referees/linesmen are now also trained to be just inside the zone to make this call, the linesman last night was not in position. Honestly, the blown offside call isn’t that outrageous to me, there are a couple in every game. But the blown holding call against Coyle was inexcusable, as was the situation where Koivu was penalized for getting mugged. Avs should’ve been shorthanded and not 4-on-4 after that one. Both calls lead directly to goals.
So the rear skate would have had to have been in the offensive zone by the time the puck completely crossed into the offensive zone.
This is the stuff of Minnesota sports legend, should the Wild lose the series.
Game six of the series is tonight in Saint Paul with good old fashioned hockey hatred percolating just the way the gods intended.