Last spring, the NHL had an operational camera embedded in all four goal posts in every arena for 89 Stanley Cup playoff games.
This year, with the addition of the coach’s challenge, the goal post cameras would have required additional wiring and parts to make the feed available for replay with the new Hawkeye system in arenas.
But since the cameras located in the posts provided such little insight to the game, they are not yet functional in all 30 arenas with the Hawkeye system.
Why? Too often, the goaltender was blocking a view of the play or puck, even with the cameras positioned facing the goal line.
The play in question happened just 2:14 into the game, but took until a stoppage more than three minutes later (at 5:56) to receive attention for review.
A review showed a shot from Detroit Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen may have snuck over the goal line before Holtby appeared to scoop the puck and flip it with his glove out toward the slot. Pulkkinen raised his stick, celebrated and pleaded with the official for a goal.
The official explanation from the NHL’s situation room: “Video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck completely crossed the Washington goal line. Therefore the original call on the ice stands - no goal Detroit.”
As we have seen many times before, even though there was enough circumstantial evidence to suggest Holtby reached behind to grab the puck, there was no way to prove the puck completely and definitively crossed the line.
Even if it seemed like Holtby scooped the puck out, common sense or deductive reasoning is not enough for a goal.
On Tuesday night, only the NHL’s “in-net” cameras were able to find the puck at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, and even then the league was not able to determine if the puck was completely across the goal line.
Rather than proceeding with cameras in the goal posts, the next course of action for the NHL may be to install cameras in the crossbar, pointing down toward the goal line.
The NHL experimented with crossbar cameras on an off-day during the Stanley Cup final and found them to be more useful for determining goals, but more challenging to install.
Either way, a camera in the goal post on Tuesday night would have been unlikely to provide any assistance in proving a goal was scored. Just look at Holtby’s body and how much of it would be blanketing the camera in the post.
The ultimate solution for this problem, of course, would be chips embedded in pucks – as displayed at last January’s All-Star Game in Columbus – to interact with sensors in the posts or goal line. That technology may still be years away.
Frank Seravalli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.