NHL Playoff Daily: The Vancouver Canucks decided not to flip the challenge coin

It was probably a 50-50 decision. 

Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said as much after the game when defending why he didn’t challenge Roman Josi’s goal in the third period that looked a lot like goalie interference. 

The goal tied the game at 1-1, less than six minutes later the Nashville Predators scored again and won Game 5 2-1, forcing a Game 6 later this week. 

"If we're down 2-1, then maybe [I'd challenge]. But it's 50-50 at that point," Tocchet told reporters after the game. "We just looked at it. I don't know what the NHL would do on that one. I don't. So, if I don't know 100 percent ... It's a 1-1 game. We thought about it, but I thought it was 50-50, personally."

If Vancouver had lost the challenge, Nashville would have been right back on the power play. 

It’s one of the risks the NHL has added to coaches' challenges in recent years. And in this case the 50 percent chance of a potential penalty was enough to sway Tocchet from challenging. 

Tocchet has also been historically conservative in his challenge usage. During the regular season the Canucks only challenged once for goalie interference and four times total (two for offsides, one for a missed stoppage). 

During the regular season only the Winnipeg Jets and Detroit Red Wings challenged less than four times. 

Maybe it was a smart move by Tocchet. Maybe the Predators would have stung the Canucks on the ensuing power play, quickly taking a 2-1 lead. 

But even if Vancouver lost the challenger, Nashville’s power play has been dreadful in the series. Josi’s goal, while technically a power play goal, was ugly and scrambly, nothing about Nashville’s power play unit screamed danger. 

It’s admittedly easy to second-guess with 20/20 hindsight. We know the Canucks eventually lost, and it was the goal that could have potentially been taken away that helped spark the Predators comeback. 

This also comes on the heels of a pair of goals being overturned in Game 5 between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, which prompted a post-game callout from John Cooper about how it could have altered the course of the game if the goals were allowed to stand. 

Having watched both games, you can’t help but wonder how the precedent of the calls in Florida wouldn’t have given Tocchet more confidence to challenge himself. 

Gone in five

The Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche both advanced Tuesday night, completing gentleman’s sweeps of the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets in five games.

Neither series was particularly close, with the Islanders only picking up a win in double overtime of Game 4, while the Jets only won Game 1 because of Colorado’s well-covered goalie stinker. 

Carolina beating New York quickly wasn’t much of a surprise. The Hurricanes are a trendy cup pick, both myself and JD Burke picked them to reach the Stanley Cup Final, and the Islanders always felt overmatched going into that series. 

The Jets getting grounded by the Avalanche, as easily as they did, was more notable. 

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, the likely Vezina Trophy winner, struggled mightily. And with its goaltender feeling porous, the rest of the Jets struggled to build much of anything. 

The series also was a reminder of how important Valeri Nichushkin is to the Avalanche multi-pronged attack. The winger scored seven goals in the series, highlighted by a hat trick in Game 4. Pair that with how Colorado looked last spring when Nichushkin was out with a mysterious absence, which still has never really been properly explained, and it paints a better picture of his value in the Colorado roster construction.

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This article is about:
NHL Carolina Hurricanes Colorado Avalanche Nashville Predators Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck Roman Josi Valeri Nichushkin Jon Cooper Rick Tocchet
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