The screen watchers in Toronto must have had a better view than NESN’s angle, from about the trajectory of the left half-wall, that showed Patrice Bergeron’s shot crossing the goal line at 8:02 of the third period. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain how the review was inconclusive as to whether the puck was in the net.
From what the Bruins saw via their monitors, the puck, which was on Roberto Luongo’s right pad, had crossed the line: a black disc framed against the goalie’s white equipment.
“I’m as baffled as you are right now,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Panthers. “And I looked at it many times before coming out here. It looks like it’s in. It looks very conclusive. That’s two in two games now.”
After confirmation from Bruins video coordinator J.P. Buckley that the puck had gone in, Julien believed, even during a lengthy review, that the Bruins had tied the game, 2-2. They had some jump. The bench came alive. They were in better shape to grab at least one point.
But Julien’s confidence turned to disbelief once referee Kelly Sutherland announced, following confirmation from Toronto, that video did not conclusively determine the puck’s landing spot behind the line. The night before, Lee Stempniak believed he had scored on Henrik Lundqvist. But Toronto cited the absence of conclusive evidence when reviewing the play and denying the Bruins the goal they believed they deserved.
“What you’re getting is feedback from your people that it’s a goal. You’re just waiting for them to call it,” Julien said. “Then they call no goal. It’s baffling, like I said, to say the least. If they have the better system than we do and they can see something different, we certainly don’t.”
The NHL is trying to do the right thing with its iterations of review, whether it’s Toronto’s war room determining goals or the on-ice officials reviewing goalie interference or offsides on their teeny-tiny tablets after a coach’s challenge. Good intentions, however, are not leading to good results.
It is amateur hour. It’s not right.
“From the angle we saw on the Jumbotron, it was pretty clear,” Brad Marchand said. “It’s very frustrating. It would have been a 2-2 game. We would have had the momentum. They scored shortly after that. It ended up costing us the game.”
The stakes are too high for the league to be depending on television networks for their replays. The quality of video is inconsistent and unreliable, whether it’s via NESN or NBC or any of the other TV providers. It is not TV’s job to shoot conclusive video. This is the league’s responsibility. It is failing badly.
The Bruins did not do their part after the no-goal call was confirmed. The Panthers, who were behind by a goal themselves earlier in the game, had no trouble pushing back to tie the game and pull ahead.
It was up to the Bruins to respond in kind. They did not do so. At 8:49 of the third, they were whistled for too many men. Seven seconds after killing the penalty, the Bruins fell behind by two goals when Jussi Jokinen tipped Dmitry Kulikov’s shot past Tuukka Rask. Luongo (34 saves) slammed the door shut, the second straight night an aging ace foiled the Bruins.
Their punishment is a very unsettling position: one point ahead of the Red Wings, who have a game in hand, for third place in the Northeast Division.
The Bruins, losers of five straight, are on pace to tumble out of the playoffs for the second straight season. There are plenty of reasons for their failure, including a gone-fishin’ power play (0 for 13 during the losing streak), an inability to finish around the net, and JV play from needed contributors such as David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, and Jimmy Hayes.
“It’s a little adversity,” Marchand said. “But we’ve got to show some character. We can’t let that get to us. We’ve got to keep going forward. You can’t hold on to anything right now. You have to make sure you look to the next one. With only seven left, every point matters.”
But it’s also the league’s place to uphold the game’s integrity if video review is to be used as a tool. The NHL has to apply consistent standards inside every arena, specifically with fixed-position cameras. If that means lenses inside the posts or in the crease looking up at the ice, so be it. If the solution is to embed tracking chips in every puck, it has to be under consideration, regardless of cost. The implications of video reviews are worth millions of dollars with playoff spots on the line. This will continue in the postseason, when a review or a challenge could end a team’s season.
There are no excuses. The NHL has to do it right. Or don’t do it all. A good try isn’t good enough.