As technology continues to advance and become an increasing influence on professional hockey, the players on the ice aren’t the only ones responsible for determining the outcome of games anymore.
Whether you’re a fan of it or not, video review has been expanding and the job of a team’s video coach and their staff have become all the more important as a result. Thursday night’s clash between the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center was a prime example as the decisions of Brett Heimlich ultimately helped his side come out on top.
To reward him for his efforts and two successful challenges, Colorado’s broadcast on the contest named him the game’s third star.
#Avalanche's broadcast announces video coach Brett Heimlich as one of the three stars after last night's win because he successfully challenged and overturned two of the #Bruins' goals. ⭐️📽️🏒👏#GoAvsGo | #NHLBruins | #BOSvsCOL | #HockeyTwitter @FrankDangelo23 pic.twitter.com/TEs3iajrY0— NextSportStar.com (@NextSportStar) October 11, 2019
While that isn’t something that you see every day, there’s no denying Heimlich’s influence on the game.
With Colorado down 2-1 in the second period, Karson Kuhlman temporarily put Boston up 3-1 after snapping a shot past the screen provided by teammate David Krejci and into the back of the net. That was right about the time Heimlich likely said something along the lines of “I don’t think so.”
The Avalanche’s coach’s challenge for goaltender interference overturned the goal once it was revealed Krejci made stick and skate contact with Colorado’s netminder Phillip Grubauer.
Halfway through the middle frame, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare of the Avalanche knotted the game up at two.
Still even early in the third period, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk put a shot between the posts on the man advantage to put the Bruins up 3-2. However, once again, Heimlich and his staff waved their fingers in Boston’s face. Their challenge for an offside that occurred nearly a minute before the tally was successful and the game remained tied.
A stunning goal by Andre Burakovsky with just over seven minutes remaining in the third gave Colorado a 3-2 lead and Gabriel Landeskog’s shot into the empty net secured the 4-2 victory.
While nobody was more disappointed than DeBrusk — who was robbed of a goal and an assist as a result of those two challenges — following the final whistle, a tip of the hat has to go to Heimlich for his attention to detail on those two plays.
As Dan Rosen of NHL.com wrote during the offseason about rules changes for video review and coach’s challenges, “the time between when the event that should have resulted in a stoppage happened and when the goal was scored does not matter as long as the puck stays in the attacking zone.”
Since the puck never left Colorado’s zone between the offside and the goal, DeBrusk’s power-play marker was reviewable and its deletion may have been the game’s turning point.
What made Heimlich’s night more outstanding is the element of risk that his job now has attached to it following some changes to coach’s challenges over the summer. Before this season, a failed coach’s challenge would result in the team losing their timeout. Now, a failed challenge slaps them with a minor penalty for delay of game and any subsequent failed challenges lead to a double minor.
With all that in mind, Heimlich may have earned his Christmas bonus two months early.
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