ESPN rules analyst says Avalanche’s costly OT penalty in Nashville is defendable – The Denver Post

The questionable and costly overtime penalty against the Avalanche on Tuesday in Nashville is “defendable” by the rulebook, ESPN rules analyst Dave Jackson told The Denver Post on Wednesday.

Jackson, a retired NHL referee living in Highlands Ranch, said referee Dean Morton likely called the Avs’ bench minor for too many men because winger Mikko Rantanen jumped onto the ice too early — before he was eligible to change for center Nathan MacKinnon. The primary television game feed used by Altitude showed what appeared to be a good change by Rantanen and MacKinnon, but it began well after Rantanen jumped onto the ice, stood against the boards, and ultimately gained possession of the puck when MacKinnon was on the bench.

A choppy video backed up the sequence, which led to the Predators’ power-play goal and 4-3 victory in OT.

“In my new position, I like to explain the rules and the criteria of each call and how the call gets made and what the rulebook says,” Jackson said. “I don’t like to second-guess any official on his judgment because I’m not in their skates. I’m not on the ice, physically drained in OT, dealing with the stress of the moment. To second-guess them from my couch on a judgment call is not fair.”

That said, “I’m assuming that the referee felt Rantanen gained an advantage that he shouldn’t have been entitled to had he waited on the bench.”

Jackson, who officiated 1,550 NHL games over 29 years, was working the ESPN-produced game at San Jose when the Avs and Preds were in overtime. He later scoured video from Nashville.

“I didn’t talk to the referee, but what I’m looking at, is that Rantanen comes onto the ice way too early. When he hits the ice, MacKinnon is still 20-25 feet away,” Jackson said. “Rantanen stands by the boards, and there’s four guys on the ice. People say this happens all the time, and they’re right. It does happen all the time, and it’s usually ignored because the guy (Rantanen) is not in the play. What I believe the referee saw was that he was on the ice too early and that gave him an advantage of getting that puck — an advantage he wouldn’t have had if he had to wait in the bench until MacKinnon was 5 feet away.

The Avalanche (22-8-3), meanwhile, took Wednesday off to begin a two-day break from games. Colorado will presumably practice Thursday before beginning a home-and-away set with the Arizona Coyotes on Friday (Denver) and Saturday (Glendale, Ariz.).

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