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Tweetmail No. 164: Challenges, Overtime & Thirds

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, presented by our friends at Tijuana Flats! Wear your Canes gear to participating Raleigh locations on Wednesdays throughout the season and receive 50% off any entrée.

Tweetmail is a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let's get to it.

Tweet from @Tom_Hannigan237: @MSmithCanes another tweetmail question for you. How do you feel about a failed offsides challenge being a penalty rather than loss of TO?

This question came up last week in Colorado when head coach Bill Peters challenged the Avalanche's fourth goal of the game on the basis that the play began with an offside zone entry.

Let's talk about that play real quick, even though my opinion of this new rule is unrelated. As Nathan MacKinnon brought the puck into the zone, the Canes questioned whether Mikko Rantanen was onside. The call on the ice was that he was onside, and that's what the review confirmed. Rantanen had one foot over the blue line before the puck entered the zone. That's fine. What was in question was the position of his back foot, and the Canes believed they had replay angles that could say his foot was off the ice and therefore offside. That ultimately wasn't the case, but it was close and worth a look.

Or was it? The Canes were down 4-2 at the time, and a delay of game minor penalty is (and turned out to be) much more consequential than the loss of the team's timeout. Hindsight is 20-20 and all that.

Opinions of that sequence aside, here's my take on a failed offside challenge resulting in a penalty: it's arbitrary and dumb.

I get the purpose of the new rule. Offside challenges last season were used willy-nilly and, at times, slowed the pace of the game. Peters and his staff would use them quite often, sometimes in a more strategic manner; they knew they probably wouldn't win the challenge, but the review process would take longer than the standard 30-second timeout they'd be losing, anyhow - shrewd coaching to basically procure an extended timeout. And, who knows? Maybe the frame-by-frame replay would show that a player happened to be a skate lace over the blue line before the puck crossed. It was worth a look. Why not?

The NHL combatted this by instituting the delay of game minor penalty for a failed offside challenge, basically telling coaches that they ought to only challenge the play if they're positive it was indeed offside or risk having to kill off a penalty. I get that. I do.

But it doesn't make sense to have a coach's challenge and replay system that is inconsistent. Why are failed challenges of goaltender interference and offside handled differently? Goaltender interference negates a goal just as much as an offside zone entry negates a goal. Yet if you challenge on the basis of the former and the call is upheld, you only lose your timeout, but if you challenge on the basis of a latter and the call is upheld, your team has to kill a penalty. It's nonsensical, an attempt to put a Band-Aid on a perceived boo-boo.

Like it or not, replay exists, so we may as well use it to ensure calls are correct. The threat of the minor penalty discourages this mode of thinking.

Tweet from @JPanepinto17: Could you ever see the NHL switching to sudden death 3v3 OT and getting rid of the shootout?

I'd be all for letting 3-on-3 overtime play out until someone scores. I'm sure there are some fancy stats somewhere that would back this opinion, but I don't think we'd see games lasting much longer than the five minutes that are already played; eventually, one of the odd-man rushes that results from a shot that goes wide of the net or a line change that isn't executed with ease is going to lead to the game-winning goal.

There are arguments against this, of course, one being the unknown of how long overtime will actually last. There is that same element in the shootout - there have been some marathon skills competitions over the years - but not to the same degree. And, a 13-round shootout isn't going to be as taxing or run the same injury risk as another five or 10 minutes of 3-on-3.

If the NHL went this route, some schedule alterations would likely have to be made. The Hurricanes have 18 back-to-back sets this season. Imagine if the team played 10-15 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime in Columbus on Friday night before having to return to Raleigh to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. To maintain quality of play, the schedule might just need more room to breathe - and it's already a pretty long season.

It may sound as though I'm talking myself out of this idea, but I'm not. I like it. 3-on-3 is fun and exciting and underscores the team element of hockey more so than the shootout does. I don't loathe the shootout, though; it's fine, and I like having a definitive game result, but sudden death 3-on-3 OT with no shootout is an intriguing idea. I just don't think we'll ever see it happen, unfortunately.

Tweet from @DaneFrazier: Is there any chance that the black jerseys will come back at some point?

In the transition to Adidas becoming the league's authentic outfitter of on-ice uniforms as well as an official supplier of licensed apparel, clubs were limited to home and road sweaters in the 2017-18 season. Teams can begin reintroducing third jerseys in the 2018-19 season.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you vehemently disagree with my opinions on challenges and overtime, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

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