The Edmonton Oilers rookie swatted a backhand with time running down and his team behind by a goal. Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick got his glove on the shot, but had the puck already crossed the line?
Connor McDavid can do a lot of wonderful things with the puck. The Edmonton center not only sits in a tie for first-place among rookie scorers with Arizona’s Max Domi, but he also leads the Oilers in offense with nine points through nine games.
What he couldn’t do, is beat Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick with a last-second backhand Sunday night in a 3-2 Kings victory.
Or could he?
Check out the play – did McDavid’s shot cross the line, or did Quick glove the biscuit in time?
Dang. That was close. From the diagonal angle, it really looks like it went in. But the overhead camera points to a more inconclusive result and since the ref’s initial call was “no goal,” that muddies the water. And angles have been tricky for these plays in the past: just think about Sam Bennett’s non-goal against Anaheim in the playoffs last year.
Getting back to McDavid and Quick, both athletes made impressive moves to get us to this controversy. McDavid was his usual diplomatic self after the game, telling NHL.com “I thought it could have gone in. Obviously it’s pretty tough to see if his glove kind of covered it up over there. Tough play.”
Given how fast the game is and how high the stakes can be – what if the Kings make the playoffs by one point or the Oilers miss by the same margin? – it is seriously time to push the search for sufficient puck sensor technology into overdrive. We have self-driving cars and incredible nano-tech industries these days; surely someone can figure out how to confirm whether a puck clearly crossed a red line on an ice rink.
Hockey is becoming quite tech-savvy, in everything from equipment to fan experiences at the arena. If you have a chance to get a play 100 percent right, why not go for it? Look at all the flak Major League Baseball catches for being needlessly old-timey.
And this isn’t about taking power out of the refs’ hands. The officials by and large do an excellent job, but human eyesight has not improved at the same rate as the pace of a hockey game. These plays happen maybe a handful of times each season, so any puck sensor technology would likely be counted on sparingly.
The result would be more accuracy in the game and that’s a positive.