Mike Babcock is one of two coaches who is standing behind the bench for the first game to start in the 2015-2016 NHL season — and he’s become the first coach of the year to both use the coach’s challenge and use it successfully.
Babcock called the challenge on the third goal scored in the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, during which Montreal skater Tomas Plekanec’s stick prevented Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier from getting across the net to make a save following Montreal’s centreing pass.
The coach’s challenge is a new rule implemented starting in the 2015-2016 season; it allows teams with a timeout left to challenge goals that are either scored on an offsides skate by the other team or when there is goaltender interference that wasn’t called by the referees. This changes the way the game can turn; previously, goals could only be reviewed to determine whether the puck had actually entered the net, not to determine whether a penalty should have been called that would have changed the outcome of the goal.
From The Leafs Nation, here’s a replay of the goal that got contested by Babcock in the second period:
The interference that was overturned pic.twitter.com/038Jd3Azzs
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 8, 2015
Sure enough, the goal — which would have put the Montreal Canadiens up 2-1 over Toronto during their first matchup of the year — was overturned using the video review. It was decided that there had indeed been goaltender interference by Plekanec on Bernier, which negated the goal and kept the score tied at 1-1.
It’s unique that the first coach’s challenge of the year would be called during the first game played in the season, but that’s proof that the rule is likely going to get some serious usage moving forward. It’s certainly helping the Leafs — there’s no guarantee that momentum shifts when teams get scored on unexpectedly (especially on an uncalled off-sides or goaltender interference), but it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that might be the case in more than a few matchups.