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Gajtka: Blame Hörnqvist’s No-Goal on Referee, Not Replay Review

The parallax view phenomenon is no B.S., but the current officiating process seems to carry a foul smell.

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As it pertains to the controversial Patric Hörnqvist no-goal in Sunday’s Penguins loss to the Capitals in Game 2, the NHL’s situation room got it right.

Wait. Before you click elsewhere, just hear me out.

Despite what it might look like from the side view, there’s no conclusive video evidence that the puck was absolutely across the goal line.

In a wild bit of déjà vu, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2016 second-round series between these two teams was subject to the same optical illusion that Hörnqvist’s (likely) goal was: The parallax view.

This short video should tell you all you need to know:

In short, just because we can see a sliver of white ice between the puck and goal line from the side view doesn’t mean the puck actually crossed the goal line.

It’s the same reason why I doubt to this day that Oshie’s goal actually went in the net two years ago. Judge for yourself:

For me, that’s inconclusive evidence and no goal.

Unfortunately for the Penguins — both the 2016 edition and the current team — the rule in place for the NHL is that there has to be conclusive evidence to overturn what has already been called on the ice.

And just as referee Dan O’Rourke was in the corner for the sketchy Oshie OT goal in 2016, Chris Rooney was way too far from the net to make any kind of accurate call on whether Hörnqvist actually did score on this play in Sunday’s third period:

Common sense tells us that Hörnqvist’s stuff attempt hit pay dirt, but since the call on the ice was ‘no goal’ and there wasn’t a definitive overhead look at the puck in the net, ‘no goal’ remained the call.

Now, here’s a disclaimer: I don’t know what NHL referees are being taught in terms of positioning on these kinds of plays. It’s a fast game, so it could be that officials are instructed to stay clear of the net so they don’t get drilled by a body, stick or shot. They might feel that the best view of a play is from outside the fray.

However, my feeling from a detached perspective is that officials have become tentative about calling goal-no goal on some of these close plays. In this case, Rooney does extend his arms overhead, signifying a stoppage in play, but there’s no dramatic ‘washout’ signal — which we usually see on shots off posts or other close calls around the goal line.

If Rooney is closer to the goal, perhaps he sees what most of us believe to be true: That Hörnqvist tucked the puck completely inside the post before Braden Holtby dragged it out with his left pad. I realize Francois St-Laurent had a little more time to post up for Winnipeg’s late equalizer Sunday night, but if Rooney is this far from the net, I bet he sees the puck go in:

My contention is that Rooney had no idea on Hörnqvist’s shot, so he decided to let replay handle this one. I’d actually be OK with that approach, but only if there isn’t emphasis placed on the call on the ice.

So, if the league is going to defer to its on-ice officials when there’s no definitive view, then said officials simply must be in better position to make an actual call. The kind of distant positioning we saw Sunday with Rooney, or two years ago with O’Rourke, is simply unacceptable under the current order of operations.

Same building. Same net. Same teams. Same result, with the Penguins on the short end of a goal/no goal ruling assisted by video replay. The parallax view phenomenon is no B.S., but the current officiating process seems to carry a foul smell.

There’s no telling what would’ve happened if Hörnqvist would’ve gotten the goal he was sure he scored. Maybe the Penguins still lose. The problem is that we’ll never know.

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A lifelong hockey addict, Matt has been fortunate enough to make his career in his sport of choice, working in high school, juniors, college and the pros in various multimedia roles. Previous to joining PHN, Matt was a credentialed Penguins/NHL beat reporter for the past two seasons, including coverage of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He signed on with PHN in Feb. 2018 as co-owner, contributing commentary and analysis in various forms.

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