Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche
In yesterday’s afternoon game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators, Matt Duchene scored a sick breakaway goal, and he only needed to be eleven feet offside to make it happen. I mean, nobody, not one person anywhere is under the impression the play was remotely onside, which in itself is kind of hilarious. “Well, we all agree that was clearly an illegal goal, but because of the way the rules are written, we’re not allowed to use common sense and overturn it.”

Anyway, the Avs ended up winning by one, which was a neat way to add insult to injury. Six goals to five goals…hey, if you subtract the one that shouldn’t count from the Avs, then the game would’ve oooOOOhhhh I see why Nashville is upset.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Here it is in real time:

We start off with David Legwand having possession of the puck in the corner, with four Predators basically at the faceoff dot or below (they all appear to be forwards too, if I’m not mistaken, so I’m assuming it was just after a powerplay). He decides to cycle the puck.

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But he does so extremely hard, so he likely thought someone was open on the far side of the ice, or at the very least behind the net. The puck rims hard around the boards, bypassing all the Predators forwards.

Parenteau recognizes this, and heads to grab the puck.


As the puck is coming around the boards, Matt Duchene, ever the smart offensive player that he is, recognizes that a lot of the Preds are caught deep, and that his guy is going to get to the puck first.

Maybe he’ll get a breakaway!


The Predators high forward, Craig Smith, sees this unfolding, and realizes he should head back to help on the streaking Duchene.


Parenteau gets to it, and tries the Hail Mary. (The “Hail Mary” is becoming more common in hockey – you trust your teammate’s athleticism, so you can fire a puck at him neck height – or just flip it deep – to avoid any defenders, and he can just grab it and put it down.)

Unfortunately for the Avs, Scott Hannan has read Duchene’s attempt to get in unmolested, and has pulled back to stop the pass. Smith has got back in time too. The window of offensive opportunity, she has closed.


Nice recovery, Preds. Now Duchene is off in no man’s land and…crap they didn’t catch the puck, they just knocked it down. Not that it matters. Duchene has already gone well offside, so let’s get a line change and carry on.


Yep. Who’s line is up next?


Erat, it’s you guys, yeah?


Okay, Erat, you guys go.


At this point, Matt Duchene is full-on deflated.

Bah. Coulda had him if Parenteau had just gone off the boards. Or maybe I shouldn’t have left so soon and showed my hand. Ah, yeah, that’s probably it. Just timed it poorly.


Like a kid playing with a puck while coach is talking during practice, Duchene is basically going to mindlessly grab the thing, if for any reason at all just to demonstrate how close he was to getting a clean breakaway.


And then we see the first glimpses of realization – “wait has anyone heard a whistle yet? ‘Play to the whistle right?’ I might as well take this thing and do something with it and let them sort it out later.” Look how upright he is above. He’s just about to come out of “dammit, almost had it” mode.


And just like that, Matt Duchene has what they refer to in football as a “free play” when the defense has already gone offside, so the quarterback can take a shot downfield without the threat of an interception standing. Might as well go for it at this point.


Combine Duchene’s casual snipe with Chris Mason not being all that great (not that he’s to fault here), and boom, the puck’s in the back of the net. I mean, Duchene himself seems confused. I guess I’ll just tuck this under the bar, then?

I think the best part might be when he celebrates the goal…


Then immediately realizes that mayyyybe he shouldn’t make a scene, and puts his hands down in about 0.5 seconds.


Meanwhile, Craig Smith is giving the universal symbol for “Whoa whoa whoa let’s settle down and talk here what the f*** just happened.”

Duchene’s quote to The Tennesean: “I was 100 percent offside.”

My initial thought was that maybe the linesman thought Nashville brought the puck back into their zone themselves, in which case an opposing player could play the puck without clearing the zone, which might have been the case. If it was, though, it’s just as hilariously wrong as missing that offside call would’ve been.

How could this possibly have happened?

Here’s a few Bob McKenzie tweets on the situation:

So yeah. It seems like the liney whiffed pretty bad on the call either way. Everyone I’ve talked to about the situation suspects that he’ll be suspended for a couple games, though we’ll never hear anything about it publicly because, y’know, refs are infallible and all that.

But hey, credit to Duchene for playing to the whistle, and it’s tough to get too upset at a loss when you give up five legit goals during a game. (…Okay, the Preds are allowed to be a little pissed. That was a bit of a hose job.)

If anything good came from this, it’s that it helped me complete my parlay on Monday. And I think we can all agree that’s what’s really important here.

Comments (21)

  1. Hail mary? We always used to yell “AIR MAIL!” when someone flipped a ball playing street hockey.

    A cock-up all around. Good thing Nashville still have 70% of a season to fix it.


  2. Just another reason to institute a challenge system.

  3. Does it matter who plays the puck into the zone first? If all 5 Avs are parked in the offensive zone and a Pred plays a back pass from neutral ice into their zone, that’s onside? If so, what about the deflection in the play off the Pred? Does that make it legit?

    • It does matter who plays it back – if the Preds play it into their own zone, then it’s their issue if they forgot an Avs forward is parked there, not the refs.

      Generally the same “possession” standard is needed for that play as for stopping the play for a delayed call – more than a deflection but less than full and complete control. I don’t think deflecting off the Predators player meets that standard, but what it probably did was fool the linesman into thinking “Okay, that pass must have come back this way from the Preds and their own defenseman botched it.”

      It’s a missed call, but just like goalies can’t make 100 percent of saves and sometimes you just have to live with a soft goal, sometimes officials botch calls. It sucks.

      FWIW, here’s the applicable section of the rules “If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.

      83.2 Deflections / Rebounds – When a defending player propels the puck out of his defending zone and the puck clearly rebounds off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone, all attacking players are eligible to play the puck. However, any action by an attacking player that causes a deflection/rebound off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone (i.e. stick check, body check, physical contact), a delayed off-side shall be signaled by the Linesman.”

  4. So I’m way to lazy to look this up, but what is the rule regarding playing the puck into your own defensive zone? If Nashville tips/knocks down the hail mary pass, is the offsides nullified? Or does it have to be “played in” with a pass/shot?

  5. Suspension for a blown call seems harsh. Refs/linesmen miss calls every game. Players miss assignments.

    If the guy is consistently missing calls, he’ll be out of work quickly enough. Having to watch the highlight over and over is probably punishment enough.

  6. Egregious and embarrassing. If the linesman really thought one of the Preds had contacted it, why didn’t he signal the standard “tipped” (glancing) hand-gesture, right after the “wash-out” (onside) call?

    It would have at least given Mason a heads-up that the puck was still considered in play and he was about to be subject to a potential goal-scoring shot.

    Brain farts, all around.

    • I’m highly suspicious the root of the problem is he lost track of who initially passed it (which is what McKenzie’s information certainly implies). The tip from the Nashville defenseman probably reinforced that notion (Linesman’s brain: “Oh, it was a back-pass trying to regroup after special teams play that the D couldn’t handle; that’s not terrible uncommon.”). But there’s no need to signal tip if he incorrectly believes the pass originates from a Preds player.

    • Because the “tipped” signal only applies to icings, a puck tipped offside is still offside so that signal would never make sense. It has to intentionally be brought into their own zone as explained above.

      The Preds have every right to be outraged over this play, and subsequently losing by a goal, but has anyone watched the entire highlight package? The first avalanche goal was an embarrassment for Mason, the fifth goal Stastny had three shots in the slot before putting it home, and the game winner Duchene pushed Weber off the puck like he wasn’t even there. The Preds could’ve had this one regardless of this botched call.

    • The washout signal from the linesman should be enough for a goalie to realize the play is still on. The linesman was also on the same side of the ice as the puck was, so he should have been in Masons line of vision if he was paying attention to the play.

  7. it’s karma for avs fans for O’Reilly

  8. Observation: In the picture above “Yep. Who’s line is up next?”, you see the “back” linesman “washing out”… What, exactly? Icing? Well, obviously the play isn’t going to end in icing, you would think. So maybe our humble, mistaken linesman thought that his partner was communicating to him that there was a backpass and no offsides on the play.

    Still a mess up, but I thought I would chime in with some sort of plausible explanation given the evidence.

    • That’s a really good catch.

      I think he’s trying to waive off icing (since it deflected even though the Avs player didn’t reach the center line), but I can absolutely see his partner linesman misinterperting that as saying it’s not going to be offside.

    • Back linesman still has to issue the Washout on the potential icing as the puck has crossed from behind centre.

      Essentially the back linesman is solely responsible for the potential icing call, the front linesman is solely responsible to watch for the potential offsides. I don’t know if NHL rules/training teaches this differently, but I was trainied under IIHF procedures and thats what my association head advised.

  9. the refs want columbus to lock down mackinnon, so they give the avs a freebie.. makes sense to me

  10. In that first screen grab it isn’t Legwand cycling the puck. It’s Kevin Klein.

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