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New Rule Could Affect Golden Knights Challenge Strategy

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Following the disaster that was the officiating in the 2019 playoffs, the NHL has expanded their challenge system to include a third category beyond goalie interference and offside.

Coach’s Challenge of goal calls on the ice that follow plays in the Offensive Zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage, but did not. This change will allow Challenges of plays that may involve pucks that hit the spectator netting, pucks that are high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, pucks that have gone out of play but are subsequently touched in the offensive zone and hand passes that precede without a play stoppage and ultimately conclude in the scoring of a goal. -NHL Public Relations

The addition of the new challenge also changed the rules on the penalty for incorrect challenges. Previously, a failed goalie interference challenge would result in the loss of a timeout and a failed offside challenge would result in a 2-minute delay of game penalty.

Now, all three challenges are subject to the minor penalty if they are unsuccessful. Thus, timeouts now return to being just timeouts, and teams are never ineligible to challenge a play. However, the penalty gets stiffer with multiple failed challenges.

Teams will be permitted to exercise a Coach’s Challenge at any time, but with escalating “consequences” for unsuccessful Challenges. The consequences of unsuccessful Coach’s Challenges will be made consistent across all three Categories of Coach’s Challenges: (1) minor penalty for Delaying the Game on a Club’s first unsuccessful Coach’s Challenge; and (2) double minor penalty for Delaying the Game for each additional Coach’s Challenge that is unsuccessful. -NHL Public Relations

That brings us to the Golden Knights, who do not exactly have a sterling record challenging goals.

Gerard Gallant has initiated 24 goalie interference challenges as head coach of the Golden Knights. He’s been successful in just three. He went 2 for 13 last year and 1 for 11 in 2017-18.

Vegas has been much better in regards to offside challenges. Last year they went 4 for 5 giving up a delay of game penalty just once, and in 17-18 they were a perfect 4 for 4.

In total, that means Vegas has only been assessed a delay of game penalty for a coach’s challenges once in its two-year history.

However, with the new rule, that number could rise dramatically this year. Gallant has missed on 88% of his goalie interference challenges. Does he stop challenging for goalie interference? Shouldn’t he?

Across the entire NHL last season, only 38% of goalie interference challenges (107 of 279) were successful. The Golden Knights tied for the league lead in goalie interference challenges with 12, outpacing all but Florida. Both the Golden Knights and Panthers were successful on just two of their 12, and Vegas added a 13th in the playoffs, losing it too.

Only three teams hit at a better than 50% clip last season. Dallas went 4 for 5 (80%), Minnesota went 3 for 5 (60%), and Nashville went 2 for 3 (67%). Every other team was 50% or less.

It will be interesting to see how the rule change affects the Golden Knights decision making as they simply can’t afford to take a minor penalty 86% of the time they initiate a challenge.

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2 Comments

  1. Brian S

    I think Gallant/VGK were “gaming” the rules quite smartly. Timeouts are usually not valuable/necessary so losing one to try and overturn a goal call is not a big deal at all. Given the previous rules, you would be smart to challenge almost ANY call where goaltender interference was possible and I’m certain the coaching staff was smart enough to realize that.

    Just like I assume they’re smart enough to realize that strategy can no longer be utilized, but the change is good for the game, so I’m glad the NHL made it.

  2. Tommy Scott

    Even though VGK was mostly unsuccessful in their goalie interference challenges, I would say it’s more due to bad interpretation of the rules rather than a bad challenge. I was quite shocked by so many of those calls not going in VGK’s favor.

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