By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
If the San Jose Sharks end up winning the Stanley Cup, their run will be absolutely peppered with controversy.
The latest egregious officiating mistake to go San Jose’s way came on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The Sharks topped the Blues 5-4 after Erik Karlsson found the back of the net in overtime. Just one problem, though. He only had an opportunity to score in the first place because of an obvious hand pass by teammate Timo Meier.
You can see below, quite clearly, that Meier bats the puck out of the air. It quickly ended up on the stick of teammate Gustav Nyquist, who shuffled it to Karlsson for the one-timer and the game-winning goal. Play should have stopped immediately once the puck touched Nyquist’s stick.
According to Rule 79.1 regarding hand passes, it’s a stoppage if the offending player “has directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official”. That is exactly what happened with Meier and the Sharks, and somehow every official missed it and it directly cost the Blues a conference final game.
The only debate, here, is whether it’s worth having replay reviews in the first place. Why use it at all if you can’t overturn something as egregious as a missed hand pass or a puck deflected into the protective netting? How a hand pass that led directly to an OT goal isn’t reviewable, but a skate being a centimeter offside behind the play is, simply boggles the mind. (The Sharks were the beneficiary of offside reviews, too.)
It’s fair to wonder whether we would rather put up with poor officiating and no replay, than having replay but being unable to use it to correct obvious errors in one of the biggest games of the season.
At some point, the NHL may need to make a hard decision. Either make every goal reviewable no matter what, or get rid of replay reviews altogether. The latter isn’t realistic at this point. But the ability to overturn Tuesday night’s goal due to the hand pass absolutely should be possible.
No other way to put it. The officials messed up big time. And the only thing more messed up than their mistake is that it wasn’t correctable despite the technology at the league’s disposal.
Enough is enough. Either make everything reviewable, or nothing. Either make fans endure bad refs that go uncorrected, or groan through tedious replay reviews. Because right now they’re putting up with both, and it’s only making the product worse.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.