Thursday, September 25, 2008


Tonight, in London, Ontario the boys finally hit a speed bump. A dominating performance by some of Philly's top young guns extinguished what was a very confident Islander team tonight 4-0. Although, it was nice having such a run of success to begin the camp, this negative can be turned into a positive that should not be overlooked. I'm sure that Coach Gordon had a few words with the team after the game but this is why there is preseason. It's better to have the lousy games now so that the team can push through and learn from their mistakes. I hope they have TV's on the bus ride back to Moncton, there's plenty of game tape to watch.

Also, I want to send some well wishes out to Brandon Sugden who played in his first NHL exhibition for the Islanders. With the drastic need for an enforcer and the determination of Brandon to get to The Show, I hope that everything comes together and he gets his shot. Now, I have for you the final piece of the NHL Standard of Play puzzle that I've been putting together for the better part of two weeks. In this last installment in the series I'm going to cover Slashing and Tripping.

To begin, let's take your ordinary, garden-variety slash:
Photo courtesy of

No, no, no. Not that kind of slash. Geez, what kind of sick, twisted mind would bother to upload that picture to a blog. Anyway, on to the traditional hockey themed Slashing.

As far as the Standard of Play initiative goes, Slashing is definitely something that officials are specifically directed to look out for. The most common slash is up around the hands or upper portion of the stick. This poses a direct danger to an opposing player's well-being and frankly the league cannot stand idly by as their superstars are getting hacked to pieces. Where are you allowed to slash someone you might ask? Well, to best explain it, think of the human body split into an upper and lower portion by the waist. Pretty much all harmless taps or gentle nudges with the blade or lower portion of the stick to the lower portion of the body and opposing player's stick are legal. Anything going over the threshold of being a part of hockey such as the Tomahawk Chop, the Two-Hander or any variation of these maneuvers will be strictly penalized.

However, the same can be said for the upper body but with some slight differences. Due to the fact that the Standard of Play is in place to keep the game moving and to keep the safety of the players as the number one priority, special attention is given to stick contact above the waist. Again the taps to a players arms and waist area are a part of the game of hockey. It's almost like announcing your presence so the other player knows that you are there. Once a player steps over that line and goes into the aforementioned nicknames for the slash, it becomes a penalty situation.

Also note, that slashes to the goalie while he has the puck, breaking the stick of an opposing player due to a slash and slashes to the unprotected back of the leg/knee are also strictly enforced. These actions pose a danger to everyone on the ice and are not tolerated in the game of hockey. Alright, enough violence for one post, let's move on to something I've always found amusing and that's the Tripping penalty.

Photo provided by ScarlettIce

Now, why you ask is this amusing to me? Well, I guess there's always been something funny when you kick out another guy's skates and he does the Superman dive followed by flopping around like a fish on the deck just after being caught. I don't really need to go into what a Tripping penalty looks like; I just added the picture above for stylistic effect. Seriously though, there are two points of emphasis that are filed under Tripping that may not be quite as obvious as the picture.

First, a player cannot place his stick in front of an opposing player's legs for the purpose of impeding progress, even if on the ice, with no effort to play the puck. That's straight from the rulebook. Basically what it means is a player cannot use his stick to block an opponent from going to the desired point on the ice surface. A good example and one I've used before, deals with an attacking player dumping the puck past a defenseman who is backing into his defending zone. That defenseman not only has to keep his foot speed and established skating lane, but also cannot extend his stick out against the boards prohibiting the attacking player from getting to the puck. Also, as I stated in my Hooking post, the player being fouled does not need to fall to draw a penalty. Even a slight bobble that causes that attacking player to slow down can be called a penalty.

The second point of emphasis was brought about because of a man who used to be on the New York Islanders and still lives here during the offseason. Bryan McCabe, prior to the lockout, had perfected a defensive strategy I'll be calling the Caber Corkscrew/Can Opener. The essence of the move is keep an attacking player from moving in the desired direction. By placing a stick in between a player's legs, in effect you can immobilize any kind of straight forward or lateral movement. Obviously if employed correctly this move can manipulate an opposing player or even cause him to fall. The basic message coming out of the Corkscrew/Can Opener enforcement again deals with impeding the opposing player and that is not how the "new" NHL works.

In the modern NHL, the emphasis is about skating and skill and no longer will fans be subjected to the dreaded "Trap". The point of bringing down a stricter enforcement is based a lot on the entertainment value of the game of hockey. You wouldn't see Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby put up the monster numbers they are able to without this officiating system in place. So the next time you're watching a game live at the rink, take notice of what's going on, on the ice. There are so many things that happen in a split second that it is hard to keep up with everything. Just remember, the officials who skate along with the players in the NHL got there because they displayed their skill and knowledge of the rules. They are not there to ruin the experience, but to make it safer and smoother for everyone involved. Sure, there will be some nights where the officials will call it tight and it might seem like an endless parade to the Box, but remember the Standard of Play points of emphasis that I've touched on in this series and you will be a more educated and knowledgeable fan for the future.

Please feel free to ask me any Questions or leave any Comments you would like. To get in touch with me and talk some hockey and maybe some Bonehead Calls, my e-mail is

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