In a 2-2 game and the Kings on a power play in the final minute, the Kings pulled their best Staples Center co-tenant Kobe Bryant and pulled a rabbit out of their hat by way of a Drew Doughty goal with 0.4 seconds left in the game. That's bad enough for the Blue Jackets.
Making it worse? It probably shouldn't have counted. There was nothing wrong with the goal itself and the puck did go in before the clock showed 0:00.00. However the clock should have already been at 0 when Doughty scored.
Here is a look at the goal from the broadcast perspective.
If you were watching the action on the ice leading up to Doughty's goal, you probably didn't notice what was going on with the clock. So here's another angle, one you can't miss.
The clock comes to a stop for roughly a full second at the 1.8 mark. If Doughty scored with 0.4 left on the clock ... you can see why the Blue Jackets are upset.
"I don’t have any official report," Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards said to the Columbus Dispatch. "But watching the replay and talking to the producer who does our show [On Fox Sports Ohio], the clock stopped at 1.8 and stopped for 1.5 seconds. They scored with 0.5.
"I’m really disappointed for the players."
I suppose it's possible that the clock on the broadcasts didn't match the actual game clocks, but that's something I'm not going to put my money on.
One of the things I love about the Blue Jackets is the accessability and outreach of their general manager Scott Howson. He's active on Twitter. He even has his a blog he posts rather candid updates on. Here is some of his latest entry (the blog has since been removed because Howson reportedly felt some opinions were "made too strongly")
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.
It is an amazing coincidence that with the Kings on a power play at STAPLES Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second. I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned.
It’s easy to say that this doesn’t matter. We, the Blue Jackets, are in last place and it is likely not going to affect our place in the standings. However, in my opinion, this matters in many respects. It matters to our players, to our coaches, every person in our organization and our fans. In talking with our coaches and Craig Patrick, our players played with passion, tenacity, grit, determination and competitiveness after a rather embarrassing loss in San Jose the night before. This tremendous effort was put in without four of our top six defensemen (James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot and Radek Martinek) and with Jeff Carter, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu and Kristian Huselius also out of the lineup. We will never know if we should have had one point or two points in the standings. What we do know is that we should not have had zero. Anyone who has competed at a high level of sports knows that when you put everything into a game, the result matters. And to have the result altered unfairly stings.
Colin Campbell spoke up for the league on Thursday.
"We didn't even look to go back and say 'OK, did something happen [with the clock]?'" Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said.
"When it crosses the line [and] you review it, you back the puck out and you see what the clock was. And the clock was 0.4 [seconds].
"And then after the game, minutes after the game, we see [it and say] 'Holy cow.'"
Campbell spoke further with the Columbus Dispatch.
"This is a tough pill for the Columbus fans to swallow, and we know that," NHL VP of game operations Colin Campbell told The Dispatch.
The NHL began investigating the incident late last night and has had multiple conversations with Howson. The league has acknowledged to Howson that the goal should not have counted, and they're looking into it further, to the extent that NHL staffers are on the way to Los Angeles to investigate.
"We're not questioning (the clock operator's) integrity," Campbell said. "But we're going to open all doors and examine everything, to see what happened and how we can keep it from happening again."
In the grand scheme of things, you figure this isn't a whole lot to get worked up about. The Blue Jackets are dead last and would probably be better off not getting a point or two in the long run to make sure they have the best odds come lottery draft time. Good luck telling that to the players and fans who feel robbed, though.
Where this could possibly be a bigger deal is if the Kings sneak into the playoffs by a point. They are currently holding onto the seventh spot out West, so if it comes down to the slimmest of margins, this will be remembered. Of course it's entirely possible the Kings would have earned the second point in overtime, but just playing the odds the Kings have the second most post-regulation losses this season with 10.
And I'll just say this: Before the conspiracy theorists start, save your breath. No way stopping the clock for that short of time could be predicted to be enough to allow Doughty to score in that spot. Any possible theory I can think of is pure lunacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report