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NHL

Trevor Zegras Is One Unlucky Duck

Trevor Zegras scores a Michigan goal
TNT

Trevor Zegras, the Anaheim Ducks’ rising star, is doing everything he can to make a name for himself, short of playing somewhere besides Anaheim. Though his team has gotten off to a 4-9-1 start, likely setting itself up for a fifth straight year without a playoff appearance, the 21-year-old center has raised his profile after a Calder-finalist rookie year by appearing on the cover of the NHL video game, scoring a team-high seven goals, and doing little things that go on to live in my head, such as the way he says “Oh, James” here:

On Wednesday night, in the second half of a national doubleheader, Zegras created another memorable moment, though the box score would be forced to forget it. In the second period, with neither the Ducks nor the Wild on the board yet, Zegras (wearing those sharp orange alts) absorbed a rebound near the crease after a hard shot from the blue line. Immediately, he had an idea. He took the puck behind the net, lifted it with his stick, and then deposited it in the upper left corner of the net before Filip Gustavsson could move his shoulder to block it. It’s the Michigan goal, no matter what a lying video title will try to tell you.

Except it didn’t count! The NHL, refusing to acknowledge the “cool plays should be unreviewable” doctrine, granted the Wild a challenge. Upon closer scrutiny, it was clear that Dmitry Kulikov (who was … interestingly … traded from the Wild to the Ducks for “future considerations” this offseason) entered the zone ahead of the puck about 30 seconds before the goal was scored. The game was returned to its 0-0 state, and even though Pavol Regenda ended up restoring a lead for the Ducks, the Wild scored the next four goals to win handily.

This is bullshit, and I don’t like it. Offside reviews, technically correct though they may be, suck the life out of any hockey game, forcing minutes of stasis and a rewind of any excitement. It’s the exact opposite of what I love about this fast-paced, free-flowing sport, and unlike challenges for things like goalie interference or kicking the puck, which directly influence goals, I’m never going to be convinced that an extra step on a zone entry is so critical that it’s worth erasing neat plays that happen half a minute later.

It’s another bad break for these once-mighty Ducks. Though Anaheim wasn’t projected to be all that relevant just yet, they could have at least done themselves a favor with an intriguing hot start. Instead, they’re thrashing about helplessly on defense and don’t yet have the firepower to even come close to making up for it. Their goal differential of -25 is tied with Columbus for worst in the league, and they’re stuck relying on just a couple of young talents to potentially make their games worth watching.

For Zegras, however, he at least has his sweet play on tape, even if it didn’t count. And as he’s made the Michigan something of a trademark, both in shooting and passing form, this is another way to grow his fame. Even the goalie had to admire his own hoodwinking.

“It’s so ridiculous,” Gustavsson said after the game. “I watched it in slow-mo between the periods and the speed he does it with, and picking up the puck by himself and doing that, it’s just crazy.”

I’m sure nobody will even mind if the NHL uses this in an ad three months from now.