After yet another game where the coach's challenge overturned a crucial equalizing goal for the Buffalo Sabres, let's take a look at the rule book and make sure we fully understand how this new challenge system works. The Sabres have now had three goals overturned due to replay challenges, and (like it or not) in all three cases they have been valid as Buffalo has been offsides in the play leading up to the goal. Here they are in order -
Game 1, Oct 8th - Sabres vs Ottawa Senators:
Zemgus Girgensons offside as Mark Pysyk makes the zone entry, right in front of the linesman, who waves the play onside. Evander Kane scores his first goal for Buffalo a minute after Jack Eichel scores, and the game is knotted 2-2. Huge momentum swing as the tying goal is waived and Sabres go on to lose 3-1 after an empty-netter.
Game 16, Nov 12th - Sabres at Florida Panthers:
With the Sabres leading 1-0, Tyler Ennis is too hasty and gets in before Jack Eichel can get the puck fully across the line. Ennis goes on to score a nifty goal that gets called back after the Panthers challenge. Within minutes Jonathan Huberdeau equalizes to make the game 1-1, before Cody Franson and Sam Reinhart seal the win.
Game 18, Nov 17th - Sabres vs Dallas Stars:
Similar situation to the Senators game. Sabres down two, get one back on the power play and immediately pressure Dallas into a delay of game penalty. Off the next power play, Reinhart scores with a wrister and Ennis screening the goalie, but Lindy Ruff pulls the ultimate Dallas-Buffalo troll, challenging the tying score with an ironic 'No Goal'. The remainder of the power play passes and with the arena deflated, another empty-netter makes it 3-1, game over.
It's not just the Sabres offense that has fallen afoul of the new challenge rules, with Dan Bylsma's attempt to challenge a Florida Panthers goal for goalie interference overruled and the goal standing, though Buffalo held on to win 3-2 in the game mentioned above.
Here are the conditions that the coach's challenge can be used in, thanks to the folks at SBN Hockey -
Just like bad bounces, it is reasonable to expect that the coach's challenge will even itself out as the season progresses, but it is indeed frustrating to fans in Buffalo at the moment as we see momentum getting killed and points getting snatched away from the Sabres. Let us know what you think about the bounces - or the new coach's challenge rule itself - in the comments.