The world of post-lockout NHL has been crazy. We’ve spent the last few years getting used to the faster pace, more frequent power plays, two-line passes, and gimmick endgames; and I think we’re sorta comfortable with it now. The Vancouver Olympics follow the slightly different IIHF rule set, so we thought it’d be nice to give you this quick primer on the changes. Feel free to quote these at a cocktail party to sound smart.
- Instant icing. The refs will blow the whistle as soon as the puck crosses a second red line. No such thing as washing out. Expect more frequent stoppages in play.
- Stay out of the crease. Mike Knuble would not fare well at the Olympics. Any forward encroaching on the paint will be met with an instant whistle. Faceoff comes out of the zone. Expect more frequent stoppages in play.
- Longer OT. In the bronze medal match, the fourth period will be 10 minutes of 4 on 4. In the gold, the OT will be 20 long minutes. Would that we could be so lucky to have 80 minutes of USA vs. Russia.
- No headshots. In the NHL, if you have the chance to pop a dude in the noggin, you take it. NHL refs will let some head shots slide unless they’re gloves-off, into the glass, elbows-up, or egregious. In Vancouver any hit to the head will be penalized.
- Shootout free-for-all. Once the first three shootout players go, anybody can. You can even repeat. You just send everybody except Semin and Varly to the locker room. They’ll keep shooting and blocking until they deliver the win.
- Free-range goalie. The keeper can do keeperly duties anywhere he wants. And you know that what means…
(Is that really the best quality available, YouTube? C’mon.)
There you have it: your cheatsheet to sounding informed regarding Olympic hockey. And don’t forget to tell your friends about the erudite website from which you gained this wisdom: The Pensblog.