The rule changes made after the lockout leave the NHL with new rules that shine a bright light on offensive players, while leaving the defense in the dark.
Dimensional cuts have been made to the playing surface in order to increase offensive play. Four feet have been added to each offensive zone. This comes as a direct result of reducing both the neutral-zone and the area behind the net by two feet.
The two line pass will be allowed, while the tag-up offside rule will be reinstated. The removal of the red line for the purpose of the two-line pass along with the shrinking of the neutral-zone makes the trap difficult to perform. These new rules will allow for more speed and fewer play stoppages.
Tired players will no longer be able to ice the puck to make a line change. They will now have to wait until after the resulting face-off to take a rest. Also, icing can now be waved off by the linesmen if they believe it was an attempted pass.
Goaltenders will now be downsizing their equipment by approximately 11 percent. This will be an issue for NHL goalies making a trip to the Turin Olympic Games, where they will have the choice to go back to their old pads. Cecilia Anderson, the starting goaltender for the Concordia women’s team, said that she would stay with the smaller pads.
“If I had the choice to upsize my equipment for the Olympics, I wouldn’t because I would prefer the equipment I have become used to.”
“Increasing the size of your equipment may add to net coverage, but it decreases your mobility,” she added.
If goaltenders want to play the puck behind the goal line they must do so in a designated trapezoid-shaped area behind the net. This allows the attacking team to perform the dump and chase with more ease. Goaltenders will be handed a delay-of-game penalty if they play the puck outside of the trapezoid.
If players would like to drop their gloves in the final five minutes of play, they should expect to get a game misconduct and a one-game suspension. Their coach will also face the consequences by receiving a $10,000 fine.
The Montreal Canadiens pre-season opener against the Atlanta Thrashers showed that the officials had zero tolerance for hooking, holding, interference and obstruction. More calls will be made for delays of the game. These penalties will be called when goalies unnecessarily freeze the puck or if a player shoots the puck over the glass in his team’s defensive zone.
As in soccer, NHL Hockey Operations will now look over game videos to verify if players dive or fake injuries to draw penalties. The first offense will get players a warning letter, and subsequent incidents will be settled through fines. Players must also think twice before opening their mouths to reporters. If they say anything derogatory or negative about the game it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct and they will be fined.
Last but not least, the NHL will be implementing the shootout. The shootout will follow a scoreless five-minute overtime. Three shots will be taken by each team. If that fails to decide a winner a sudden death format will follow.
Let’s wait and see how long it takes the players of the new NHL to get use to the new rules.