Blashill still getting up to speed with offside challenge rule

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jeff Blashill

Detroit — The NHL has tweaked offside challenges this season — and coach Jeff Blashill got his first (unsuccessful) taste of it.

Blashill challenged an offside Thursday on Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat’s power-play goal, only to see referees confirm the goal.

And the Red Wings being issued a two-minute penalty for delay of game, the result of an unsuccessful offside challenge.

“We lost communication with the back and basically, in real live action, when you lose communication you can’t go on what you see live,” Blashill said. “I’ve been wrong lots and I was wrong last night.”

Blashill said after the game he would have bet his kids that Chicago was offside on the call.

“I’d be kid-less right now,” Blashill said.

Blashill understands why the rule has been reworked, penalizing the team with the unsuccessful offside challenge.

“I understand the purpose of it, the purpose is to eliminate anything that’s not black and white,” said Blashill, who feels the onus has basically been put on the head coaches. “I had a referee in the league say to me just keep calling them, (penalty) kills are like 85 percent and you’re only going to be wrong 15 percent of the time.

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“I’m thinking come stand in my shoes for the 15 percent of the time. It does put the onus on the coaches. It gives the second-guessers another chance to second guess.”

By tweaking the rule, the NHL is attempting to make sure not to miss the flagrant calls while letting the offside where maybe only a player’s skate lace is offside slide.

“The spirit of the rule, both with this and goaltender interference was (calling) the flagrant ones,” Blashill said. “(Former assistant coach) Tony Granato showed me one when he was coaching in Pittsburgh that (a goal) was four feet offside. Those are the ones they want to get.

“I get it, I totally get it. What I saw live last night, I thought he was four feet offside. He wasn’t.”

Heading into the regular season, Blashill said he wants his staff to be 100 percent sure before a decision to challenge is made.

Zetterberg debuts

Forward Henrik Zetterberg (neck spasms) was scheduled to make his preseason debut Friday against Toronto.

Zetterberg was to center a line with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.

“He’s had real good practices, skated a lot, which puts him in a real good spot,” Blashill said. “He just had a little kink in the neck, which held him out of some games.

“One game is plenty for him. He’s been able to practice with Nyquist and Tats (Tatar) and we’ve been able to have some power-play practices, so there’s continuity with that group.

“It’ll be good to get him game action against a real good (Toronto) lineup.”

Zetterberg was pleased to get one preseason game to get ready.

“Ask me after the game, I might have a different answer, but it’s good to get a real test,” Zetterberg said. “I wanted to play two games, I missed one last week, now it’s just going to be one.

“You just got to get out there, and get used to playing games again. Kroner (Niklas Kronwall) said you can only practice that much, you have to get into games and get into those situations.”

Ice chips

Toronto brought a strong, NHL caliber lineup which should benefit both teams heading into the regular season.

“Babs (Toronto coach Mike Babcock) and I had a conversation a couple weeks ago to just talk about potentially setting the lineup,” Blashill said. “You try to talk to coaches when you can just to see maybe you can get NHL against NHL (lineups) and we certainly have that (Friday) for the most part.

“That’s great for both teams to be more prepared for their openers.”

…Defenseman Joe Hicketts replaced Kronwall in the lineup, Kronwall having played Thursday. The fourth line consisted of Ben Street centering David Booth and Luke Glendening.

Red Wings at Maple Leafs 

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto

TV/radio: None/950 AM.

Outlook: The end of the exhibition season at Ricoh Coliseum, not the Air Canada Centre, where the Maple Leafs normally play.