Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Oilers-Kings overtime reminds us how the replay system isn’t getting it right

Friday night’s Game 3 between the Kings and Oilers ended in controversy, although for a while we couldn’t figure out why.

That was probably the first sign that things are screwed up. Three minutes into sudden death overtime, L.A.’s Trevor Moore snuck a puck past Stuart Skinner to win the game and give the underdog Kings a 2-1 series lead. The crowd went crazy, the Kings players poured off the bench, and fans around the continent got ready for bed.

And then, as tends to be the case in the NHL these days, came the review. For what? At first, nobody was sure. Eventually somebody figured out that the officials were looking to see if L.A. forward Gabriel Vilardi had deflected the puck with a high stick earlier in the shift. If he had, and the replay could conclusively confirm that, the goal would be waved off as a “missed stoppage”, a scenario that was added to the review process in 2019.

So we waited. And waited. And eventually the ruling came down that the goal would count, and we got a second, more muted celebration. Now the Oilers are complaining, their fans are furious, and everyone is arguing over video that’s completely obvious one way or the other depending on what team you cheer for.

Why? Why are we doing this?

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