Calgary’s Lifeline Goal Overturned as NHL Officiating Rears its Ugly Head Once Again

Hockey fans everywhere were treated to one of the most high-octane and action packed series in recent memories as the Edmonton Oilers took down the Calgary Flames in five games for the first “Battle of Alberta” in 31 years.

It is a shame however that while Connor McDavid’s OT magic in the deciding game will ultimately be overshadowed by a call that could’ve shifted the series.

Blake Coleman’s disallowed goal that would’ve put the Flames up 5-4 with just under six minutes to go in the final frame was potentially the dagger for the Flames long before McDavid struck in OT.

With both Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman both cutting towards the net, Backlund’s initial shot snuck under the arm of Mike Smith as the puck dropped in the blue paint and heading for the back of the net.

As the puck was on it’s way over the goal line Coleman was incensed to ensure the puck cross the line as it would be the game winning goal, but as he was heading to tap the puck home his legs were taken out by an outmuscled Cody Ceci, before he clipped the skates of Mike Smith as he started to crash into the net.

At the same time he was crashing into the net the puck bounced off his left skate as he was trying to plant his foot and stop the momentum from taking him through the net and potentially a severe injury, but it appeared as if he extended his leg to kick the puck across the goal line, or at least that was what challenged.

After video review from both the on-ice officials and the back in the video review team in Toronto, they cited that the rule states their must be a distinct kicking motion but have provided no clear evidence as to what is a kicking motion.

No challenge was made on the Oilers behalf on the play as it was called through the officials to have a further review of the play before they came to the decision that the puck was, indeed, kicked in by Coleman.

Inconsistant calls have plagued officials across the league all season and have plagued them for the past few seasons as compared to before, but the debate for what is or isn’t a “distinct kicking motion” has to be the one call that many fans will point to as one of the biggest turnoffs after what has been a fantastic season so far.

Many fans took to Twitter to show just how inconsistent the “kicking motion” calls have been just this season alone, with user @connoredward29 starting a thread of goals that were allowed after being reviewed for a “kick”.

Thread Credit: @connoredward29, @miketgould, @JLazzy23, @scottcwheeler

Whether or not you believe that the Coleman goal was a distinct kicking motion or not, the fact of the matter is that the inconsistency in what is determined to be a kick or not has fans and members of the media scratching their head as it seems to be a toss up everytime as the NHL leaves too much up for interpretation.

In turn when you leave your calls up for interpretation you will get a result like this as one team directly got screwed out of a call and as a result lost the series because of it.

Calgary did themselves no favours following their wild 9-6 win in the first game of series after dropping the next three, and even in game five they were unable to hold another multi-goal lead but that is besides the point.

The Flames had a lifeline to extend the series and live to see at least one more game, as maybe the would’ve had the extra motivation to turn the series around and win if they had gotten that goal, but that reality is sadly a distant memory now as the Flames were finally extinguished in OT.

All credit to the Edmonton Oilers who a lot of people were questioning how they would turn up in what many predicted to be a tough series, but they were able to neutralize many of Calgary’s top stars, especially giving Jakob Markstrom a really tough time.

But instead of many fans looking back on this series with praise, the way the series was changed as a result of game management by the referees will leave a sour taste in Flames fans mouthes, and should in many fans who respect the integrity of the game.

Fans of the NHL should demand that the “grey area” surrounding the kicking motion rule be revised again over the offseason in an attempt to curb an event like this in the future.

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