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Okay, writing this in the middle of the night, attempting to process what occurred on the 3-2 Colorado goal at the end of the first period. 

When I first saw Cale Makar score, I said, “No way.”

But it did stand after review. It sure seems counter-intuitive, but here’s why it held up:

First, look at the linesman at the top of the photo. His hand is not in the air. This is not a delayed offside. Rule 83.3 screengrabs were being thrown all over the internet, but it was not a factor. The puck was not in the Edmonton zone, it was in the neutral zone when Makar first touches it. Makar is onside. He is not attempting to pursue a puck while offside. 

It’s a tag-up offside. Not a delayed offside. Play continues if offensive players who preceded the puck into the zone return to the blue line and tag it.

Valeri Nichushkin’s responsibility is to get onside. If Makar dumps it in and Nichushkin goes for the puck before tagging up, it’s offside. If he went to collect the puck instead of tagging, he’s offside. 

If you watch the goal either at replay or real speed, the only signal the linesman makes is to waive-off an offside call. It’s close, but Nichushkin is ruled to have legally left the zone. 

(This particular situation was a major emphasis prior to the playoffs for teams and broadcasters. The NHL took pains to remind everyone that a player’s skate is allowed to be off the ice provided it has not cleared the plane of the blue line when entering the zone, but that is not good enough when exiting. Your skate must touch the ice to clear.)

Among people who reached out about the call, most who disagreed were active — or recently-active — players. They thought for sure Makar carried into the zone with possession and the play was offside. Those who backed the call included a few general managers, and video coaches. Several of them immediately texted to say they felt badly for Edmonton, knowing the Oilers were going to lose the challenge. 

“I’m betting this one hasn’t happened to them,” one wrote. “They weren’t familiar with it.”

Here are some examples where this kind of play stood as a goal:

March 19, 2017, this call is the one several coaches said started this precedent. The play was ruled onside, with the Blackhawks scoring seconds later.

Here are some other examples, and when they happened…

Feb. 4, 2020:

Jan. 23, 2021:

April 6, 2021:

Not sure this is going to change anyone else’s mind, but I understand why it counted — even though my brain will take time to not process it as offside. I would also say that there was far more disagreement with the Blake Coleman disallowed goal in Game 5 of the Calgary/Edmonton series than this. 

A full 32 Thoughts blog to come later, but this needed an early-morning update. 

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