As Kraken fans sat stricken by a Game 7 equalizer in the first round of the playoffs, Tim Ohashi and Brady Morgan had already reconfirmed multiple times that it shouldn’t count.
Video coach Kraken Ohashi and assistant Morgan had double taken 17 seconds prior when the Colorado Avalanche made their first entry into the zone past Nathan MacKinnon’s slapper. Their eyes immediately told them the play was offside and multiple reviews from multiple angles – even before MacKinnon’s goal was scored – confirmed Avalanche winger Artturi Lehkonen crossed the blue line at one. puck foot.
“When you watch every game live like that, you’re especially focused on the blue line,” said Morgan, who watches games alongside Ohashi on video monitors in practice rooms at the back of arenas and far away. action on ice. “So, yes, it was easy. We call it a “tap-in” on that one.
The Kraken overturned the goal on a challenge from a coach, held on to their 2-1 lead and held out the final 17 minutes to eliminate the Avalanche. Still, given the high-pressure stakes in Game 7, even a shoo-in judgment call causes concern before it’s upheld.
“Until you hear the umpire come to the microphone and wave (a goal) or point to center ice, there’s always a bit of nerves,” Ohashi said. “Because you never know 100%. But you just have to trust what you know and who you trust.
It was the second game in a row the pair have helped disallow a goal, spotting a much closer missed offside in Game 6 that nullified an opening count by Colorado defender Bowen Byram. Teams that challenge unsuccessfully are handed a two-minute penalty, meaning either challenge – especially at the end of Game 7 – had the potential to swing the contest and even the series.
Two games into their Western Conference semifinal against Dallas, Ohashi and Morgan said on Saturday they had done their job and had no time to dwell on their shot. State in the first round. They know the Kraken needs them to focus on what’s in front of them.
“If you tell them to challenge, you better be 100% sure,” Morgan said with a chuckle.
Teams have approximately 20-30 seconds to use challenges to disallow goals arguing that a play was offside, goalkeeper interference has occurred, or some other offense – such as a pass of the hand – was missed and should have caused a stoppage of play.
The two video staff communicate with the bench via a wireless microphone between Morgan and Kraken assistant coach Paul McFarland. In Game 7, Morgan informed McFarland seconds before MacKinnon’s goal that he suspected the crease was offside.
Initially, the Ball Arena crowd’s reaction to the goal was so strong that Morgan could not confirm whether McFarland had heard his advance notice. But he and Ohashi have a backup plan; send a red banner alert to the coach’s bench video monitor with the word “Offside” prominently displayed.
McFarland advised coach Dave Hakstol, who, after watching the Monitor replay, challenged and had MacKinnon’s goal overturned.
Afterwards, Hakstol praised the video duo, saying “there’s always a bit of doubt,” no matter how obvious a call seems.
“I could see a bit on the bench, but it’s hard to see on the monitors to be honest with you,” Hakstol said. “But they succeeded. It’s not an easy task and they got it immediately. Before the puck entered the net, they already had it and communicated to the bench. »
After Byram’s goal in Game 6, the replays weren’t so clear cut.
“That was the one where we said ‘Hey, we’re still watching this. We think it’s offside,” Ohashi said.
As Morgan remotely rewound the video for the coaches on the bench to watch, Ohashi watched a higher, wide-angle “coach camera” feed providing a better view of the game.
“You could see the puck still definitely on the blue line and the Colorado player was in front of it,” Ohashi said. “And then once we got that angle as well, we were 100 per cent sure.”
Ohashi and Morgan spend most of their time editing and packaging music videos for screening or teaching purposes. But during games, they sit side-by-side with laptops at a practice room table adjacent to the locker room with a third video monitor positioned between them.
They watch a broadcast stream with the same view fans see on TV, with about 10 additional camera angles available and instantly reviewable.
Morgan watches the “hawk eye” camera containing the broadcast feed plus four additional blue line angles on either side of the rink. Also, with two overhanging views of the two goal areas.
Ohashi uses the “coach camera” providing the superior wide-angle view used to collect instructional footage for players during meetings.
The Kraken used six coaching challenges during the regular season and completed four of them, just around the league’s 68% completion rate. They were 3 for 3 in offside challenges, 1 for 3 in contested interference.
But it was their 2-on-2 playoff record that quickly caught the eye across the league.
“Those are situation calls, but either way we felt pretty good about them,” Morgan said. “Offside is black and white, isn’t it? With goalie interference, who knows sometimes? But with those two calls (offside), we trust our process and we know our angles.
Yet they are never completely certain. Referees watch smaller video screens and human error and subjectivity can come into play.
Two years ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets challenged a Carolina Hurricanes goal on a play that appeared to be offside. But the challenge fell through – with video ruled inconclusive – resulting in a Columbus penalty with 1:15 left in the second period.
They killed initial penalty time and then, at intermission, the NHL apologized for miscalling before all video angles were reviewed. Carolina’s goal stood, but the remaining 45 seconds of the penalty was stripped early in the third period.
So before challenging Hakstol, Ohashi and Morgan like to make sure there’s as little doubt as possible onscreen.
Ohashi, a Washington, D.C.-area native, spent five years as a video analyst for the Washington Capitals before joining the Kraken in late 2020. Morgan was hired in April 2021 after five years with the AHL Tucson Roadrunners in his native Arizona.
Both agree that the Game 7 call was the most impactful.
“It’s cool because we’re never going to score a goal on the ice or block a shot or make a save,” Ohashi said. “So that’s as close as we get to affecting the scoreboard.”