“Strip-Gate”: A Review of the Clock-Malfunction in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final

It felt like a major-league shafting had taken place. One of biblical proportions, and in “Sin City” of all places. It was a mystery to everyone. All of those in attendance on “The Strip”, and all of those across the globe watching on television, were left scratching their heads.

I had fully intended to go back and check to see what had exactly transpired as soon as it occurred. However, the urgency for the review quickly subsided as the Capitals held on to win Game 5 and their very first Stanley Cup. The review would have to wait, as celebrating now took a higher priority.

Fast forward 20 months. I finally had the chance to go back and figure out what had exactly happened, and did just that.

Most of you will recall the confusion that occurred in the final two minutes of Game 5. The clock had mysteriously stopped working with about 1:49 left in the game, while the action continued on the ice.

As the great Warner Wolf would say, “Let’s go to the video tape”. Keep your eye on the clock in the upper part of the screen.

“Are you F*&cking kidding me!” was my immediate audible response when it happened. My follow up thoughts: could this be a new, elite-level of getting screwed-over for the Capitals? Have “they” found a new way of breaking our hearts?

Then the clock mysteriously starts back up in the middle of the sequence. Is it right? How could it disappear for a minute and a half, and come back at exactly the correct setting?

The sequence on the ice stops, and so does the clock, at a precision-sounding 28.6 seconds. It felt like more time had elapsed, but who knew for sure.

The officials quickly gathered following the stoppage to figure out what had happened.

“Ok, they will figure all this out and justice will be served” was my immediate hope/prayer. My follow-up thoughts: This is Vegas. People mysteriously disappear all the time, and for a lot less. Stopping a clock in a game that has big money riding on it would be nothing for the powers that be in Southern Nevada.

After a lengthy debate, the officials decided to go with what was showing on the clock. 28.6 seconds.

I simply put a stopwatch to the “mystery sequence”, from the puck drop to the icing call, to figure out exactly how much time had elapsed when all of the clocks stopped working. I ran through the exercise six times to find an average.

My conclusion, the sequence of play lasted one minute and 23.9 seconds (1:23.9). The sequence started at 1:49:00. Thus the clock should have read (1:49.0 – 1:23.9) 25.1 seconds, not 28.6 seconds. A difference of 3.5 seconds.

After discovering the discrepancy, I began to ponder. “Is this a lot”? Is this an acceptable error? It didn’t affect the outcome of the game or the series (thankfully). In the grand scheme of life, it’s not that much time. The Capitals still won the Cup. To the “no harm, no foul” sect, this is a non-issue.

However, could it have ended in disaster? You bet. Consider if Vegas had scored a goal in the last few seconds of the game. We would have been talking conspiracy, video time stamps, frame rates and other technical jargon for days and weeks following the game.

Personally, it seems like way too wide of a margin of error for a Stanley Cup final game, in this day and age, but ill leave it up to you to decide.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to “Strip-Gate”: A Review of the Clock-Malfunction in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final

  1. Marky says:

    God I love watching this! Never gets tired.

  2. Kenneth C Pilpel says:

    I went the other way.. I started a countdown timer (same one I use for son’s hockey games) at 2:04. Vegas TO. And kept time at whistles. I was at 27 seconds when they said 28.6. I will do a 2nd run to validate my findings. Funny thing, later that week my daughter was in her spring league championship game and they had a clock issue also.

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