Boston Bruins the latest victim of the NHL’s toss up offside review

The Boston Bruins believed they had taken their first lead of the game against the Montreal Canadiens, then the dreaded offside review struck.

The NHL’s much-maligned offside review makes waves across the hockey world every few weeks or so it seems. The latest incident came during Tuesday night’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, a bitter Atlantic Division rivalry that sees no love lost between the two teams.

At a pivotal moment in the third period with the game tied 4-4, the Bruins scored on Charlie Coyle‘s tally to take their first lead of the hockey game. Boston, which had been losing by two-goals earlier in the game, were about 14 minutes away from netting their 12th win of the season.

Instead, however, Montreal head coach Claude Julien decided to take a look at the Bruins’ zone entry, which happened about 10 seconds prior to the goal. A nearly five-minute long review ensued, which culminated in reversing the call on the ice to put the score back at 4-4 tie.

The moment in question was Coyle’s zone entry, where the forward was in the zone just a fraction of a second before the puck was.

The puck was trailing Coyle into the zone as the forward received the cross-ice pass off the back of his skate as he entered into the offensive zone. While Coyle preceded the puck into the zone by a hair, the case could have been made that the forward had possession of the puck, a key factor in determining if Coyle was offside or if the play was legal.

The NHL’s official ruling did not state anything about Coyle possessing the puck on his zone entry, but Coyle’s act of receiving the puck off his skates in lieu of his stick is an act of gaining control of the puck, something that the on-ice officials nor the war room in Toronto thought of when reviewing the play.

Instead of a good goal for Boston and the lead, the score remained tied until Montreal took the 5-4 lead and never relinquished it to cap off the controversial final period.

It’s easy to see why Bruins fans believed they got short-changed by the officials. Hockey players often receive passes in their skates over the course of a game, and while some of them are bobbled, Coyle’s was a smooth transition as he kicked the puck forward to himself on the entry. The officials, however, didn’t see it that way and called back the goal because of it.

Bruin’s head coach Bruce Cassidy also wasn’t a fan of the official NHL ruling, telling NESN Sports Today after the game that he has some “beef” with the call:

Listen, my beef with that, some are going to go your way, some not, ours are not going our way lately, but I assume that they will straighten out over the course of time. The rule was put in place specially for egregious (calls). They’re over there for three minutes, you think, ‘Well what is the purpose of this rule?’ Either you find something or you don’t.

The review itself was a drawn-out affair, as play was halted for over three minutes so the officials could wind back the play that had happened 10 seconds before the goal. Montreal could have done numerous things between the zone entry and Coyle’s tally to prevent a scoring opportunity that were more impactful to the play at hand than skating into the offensive zone a hair offside.

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Boston has lost just two regulation games this season, and in both of those losses had three goals overturned by review. There’s hardly much for the Bruins to complain about this season, as the team sits at 11-2-2 in the first week of November, but this regulation loss after a toss-up overturned call is a tough one to swallow.

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