Want more evidence that the NHL is just enamored with seeing Columbus continue their freefall into irrelevance this season? It's bad enough that the Blue Jackets are dead last in the league, trailing the Edmonton Oilers by 11 points in the league's cellar, but now it appears arena technology may have actually become self-aware and is against the Jackets as well.
In last night's game against the Los Angeles Kings, a team who has also vastly underachieved this season, Drew Doughty's buzzer-beater with .4 seconds left in regulation left Columbus with a familiar empty feeling. The goal clearly crossed the goal line before time had run out and interim head coach Todd Richards' bunch was forced to swallow another devastating loss.
Buzzer beaters make Sportscenter, right? Hey ESPN! Look at us! Check out what we did! Over here! Hurry up! Ah damn, they missed it again.
But wait, video review of the goal, which was allowed to stand by on-ice officials, reveals that something may have gone awry with the arena clock. Have a look for yourself:
It appears the clock is held up briefly at 1.8 seconds, for nearly a full second, or just enough time for Doughty to beat Curtis Sanford and saunter over to the corner in celebration. Sanford immediately pleaded his case that time had in fact run out. And he was right. Well, sorta.
This is the third time we've seen the Blue Jackets allow a game-winning goal with under a minute to go in regulation this season. That's unreal. But perhaps for the first time, there may have been more at play here than their pourous defense and lack of rebound control.
It comes as no surprise that the worst team in the NHL by a country mile is also among the league's worst in the final frame. According to Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy, and editor of The Vancouver Sun, the Blue Jackets are 3-26-4 in which they enter the third period tied or trailing. Last night they got an unlikely equalizer from Colton Gillies, his first of the year, off a great feed from Antoine Vermette roughly five minutes into the third, but just couldn't hold on for one more second.
Okay, less than one more second. You get the point.
Later this morning, general managers of both teams spoke publicly about last night's events.
First, Columbus' Scott Howson posted a blog on the team's official website addressing his unhappiness, rather diplomatically, with an "unjust result" in Los Angeles last night. Though Howson was at the CHL Top Prospects Game last night in Kelowna, British Columbia and not in California, he was still busy working the phones in the minutes following his team's latest defeat.
According to his blog, he has been reassured by Colin Campbell that the league will investigate the situation in last night's game and that the clock in the video below was in fact the correct arena clock:
"I spoke with (NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations) Colin Campbell on two occasions after the game. Sometimes in watching the game on television there can be confusion with respect to the game clock. Some television broadcasts use their own game clock that is not official with the rink. However, and after double checking, Colin confirmed that we were actually seeing the official game clock stop for one full second. Therefore, when you do the math, Drew Doughty actually scored 0.4 seconds after time had expired, which means the goal should have been disallowed and should have gone to overtime. Colin has promised me that the NHL will investigate this to try and figure out how this happened."
He went on to admit that although the outcome of the game has little impact on his team's place in the standings, the tightly-knit Western Conference playoff race could be affected. We'll never know if the Kings would have earned the extra point in overtime or the shootout (in which case they would still not get credit for a ROW, which is the first tiebreaker) but what if they didn't get two points?
"We could be talking about a team not making the playoffs and missing out on millions of dollars in playoff gates," he said. "No one can ever convince me that this result does not matter."
Then later, Dean Lombardi decided to teach everyone a lesson in how clocks work with his best "Bill Nye The Science Guy" impression. He replied an email from to Lisa Dillman of The Los Angeles Times with this explanation:
"Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs – given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see. The delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10–10ths of a second before the delay. This insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes. That is not an opinion -– that is science -– amazing device quite frankly."
Blue Jackets fans should be happy that Howson is taking a proactive role in seeing to it that the league accounts for this mistake. It will be interesting to see how the NHL acts on this matter. Don't expect any radical moves by the league, though.