Ryan Kesler might be a villainous player to the Edmonton Oilers, but another Anaheim Ducks forward is emerging as an unstoppable super villain. Jakob Silfverberg has exploded on the Oilers through the first three games of the series with four goals and five points. Silfverberg played a crucial role in Anaheim’s first win of the series by scoring his fifth and sixth goals of the playoffs.
His timing on those goals was impeccable. Both times the Oilers looked like they were back in the game, Silfverberg struck and helped regain a two-goal lead for the Ducks. His second goal came on a controversial call that prompted Oilers head coach Todd McLellan to issue a “Coach’s Challenge” believing that Silfverberg was offside on the Ducks’ zone entry that set up the eventual goal.
Edmonton had just clawed back to make it 4-3, and when the officials ruled in favor of the Ducks, the Silfverberg goal sealed the Oilers fate with 15:04 remaining in the third period.
“Offside” According To The NHL
According to the NHL rulebook, offside is defined as follows;
Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone.
The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play.
A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick. However, a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.
It should be noted that while the position of the player’s skates is what determines whether a player is “off-side,” nevertheless the question of an “off-side” never arises until the puck has completely crossed the leading edge of the blue line at which time the decision is to be made.
If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.
Was Silfverberg Offside?
To summarize, a player cannot precede the play into the attacking zone, offside is defined by the position of the skate (back foot), a player is on-side when either of their skates is touching the blue line, and the puck has to cross the line completely.
From the video footage above, you can see that Silfverberg does indeed precede the play and the puck carrier (Shea Theodore) into the Oilers zone and the puck has yet to cross the line completely. Where there’s a discrepancy in the fact that it could be argued that Silfverberg’s back skate is still touching the blue line, meaning the Ducks gained the zone legally. You can go both ways with this, and rules are open to interpretation.
The real question is how in this day and age, does the NHL not have a proper high-definition camera angle or the technology to make a more informed decision on a call like this during a one-goal game in the playoffs?
In my opinion, the NHL has been gravely inconsistent with their calls, and they were wrong on this decision. Silfverberg meets all the criteria for an offside according to their rulebook, but the NHL felt it was inconclusive if he was still touching the blue line.
Respect Your Enemy
Regardless of whether it was offside or not, you can’t discredit how valuable Silfverberg has been to the Ducks. In Game 1 he completed the comeback from 3-1 and scored the tying goal to make it 3-3. In Game 2 he scored a power-play goal (PPG) late in the second period that put the Ducks back in the game as well.
JAKOB SILFVERBERG STATS 2016-17
* Stats Includes Playoffs & Season
Then again as mentioned, in Game 3, he scored to put the Ducks up 2-0 and then 5-3 to take the wind out of Edmonton’s sails.
Silfverberg is an evasive skater, he’s not the swiftest, but he switches on his edges very well and that allows him to get an extra step or two on the Oilers defense. If the Oilers are going to keep him off the scoresheet they’ll need to get sticks within that wheelhouse of his and make it harder for him to get shots off clean.
Not to be outdone, the Oilers have a weapon of their own in Leon Draisaitl who has been superb in this series thus far. In 13 games against the Ducks this season, Draisaitl has nine goals and 18 points for an incredible 1.39 points-per-game (PTS/GP) average. He has 23 points in 20 games over his entire career versus the Ducks and has an astounding 37.9 shooting percentage (S%).
LEON DRAISAITL STATS VS DUCKS
* Stats Includes Playoffs & Season
Both players have five points each to lead their respective teams in scoring during this series, and it’ll be interesting to see who can stay hot the longest. Draisaitl has points in each night except Game 2, while Silfverberg has scored points in each game. The Ducks forward has three years remaining on his contract, and if he can keep this play up and pull Anaheim into the Western Conference Final, his $3.75 million cap hit will look like an absolute steal!