Friday, October 10, 2008


Well folks, tonight's the night. That day you circled on your calendars back when the NHL schedule was released has finally arrived. Amongst all the excitement and fanfare of this 2008-09 season getting under way at The Rock, some might find themselves confused by several slight amendments to the NHL Rule Book. I'll go over each one so you can understand why certain things have changed and what situations you'll witness them in.

1)Rule 76.2 Face-off Locations

"When players are penalized at a stoppage of play so as to result in penalties being placed on the penalty time clock to one team, the ensuing face-off shall be conducted at one of the two face-off spots in the offending team's end zone. There are only four exceptions to this application:

  1. when a penalty is assessed after the scoring of a goal - face-off at center ice;
  2. when a penalty is assessed at the end of a period - face-off at center ice;
  3. when the defending team is about to be penalized and the attacking players enter the attacking zone beyond the outer edge of the end zone face-off circle - face-off in the neutral zone;
  4. when the team not being penalized ices the puck - face-off in the neutral zone outside the blueline of the team icing the puck."

The basic concept is that the offending team will always have the first face-off of the penalty kill in their defending zone. The third exception means that if the attacking team encroaches on the end-zone face-off circles to pressure the team being called for a penalty, the face-off is conducted in the neutral zone. This is the same premise, when the defense of an attacking team goes below the circles after the puck has been frozen by the goaltender.

2) Rule 81.1 Contact during Icing Situations

"Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not from eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player."

In junior hockey, this has been a point of emphasis for several years. The issue lies with a high speed race for the puck. If the attacking player decides that instead of playing the puck, he'll take the defenseman into the boards he is severally penalized. This rule is to make these kinds of situations safer for the defenseman and the attacking forward.

3) Rule 82.1 Line Changes

"A team that is in violation of Rule 81-Icing shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off."

This rule is the familiar part. What is new for this year and not explicitly described in the rule book pertains to TV Time Outs. If a team ices the puck in an effort to get their players on the ice some rest, the TV Time Out is postponed until the next face-off has been completed. Coaches last year abused this loophole in the rule by telling their players that the TV Time Out was imminent and that icing was a viable option since they would not be allowed to change and could take a 3 minute breather. This year that will not be possible.

And finally...

4) Rule 85.5 Puck Out of Bounds

The intention of this rule change is to create a defensive zone face-off. Now, no matter which team shoots the puck off the posts or crossbar and out of play the resulting face-off will be in the zone of the goal net which the puck was shot off of.

There are the rule changes for 2008-2009 as per the NHL Official Rule Book. Please also direct your attention to my Standard of Play Blog Series where I went over in detail the five penalties of emphasis that the NHL Officiating Association has cracked down on since the Lockout. Here are the links: the Preview, Hooking, Holding and Interference and Slashing and Tripping. If you get a chance to read up on these blogs you will have a better understanding for why the officials call what they call during a game.

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1 comment:

Walt Webb said...

I think the rule changes will help the game. The icing rule is along the lines of an article I wrote on my blog last spring and should help avoid injuries. The faceoff in the defensive zone on a penalty should also help to bring goal totals up.
Walt AKA All Sports on the Web
All Sports on the Web