The Islanders are playing their first pre-season game tonight, in Calgary against the Flames. You can watch it online on either team’s official site and if you do, you’ll probably notice some weird new rules. Here’s what you’ll be seeing…
First and foremost is hybrid icing. It’s not going to be the usual race for the puck when it gets flung all the way down the ice. The NHL is experimenting with hybrid icing during the pre-season. The NHLPA board will vote on hybrid icing at the end of the pre-season, and if they approve it, it will become a part of regular season games immediately (Update: this rule change was approved by the NHLPA and will be implemented for the 2013-14 season). So, what’s it going to look like?
When the puck goes down the ice for an icing, the players will race towards the faceoff dot instead of the puck. If the defender reaches the faceoff dot before or at the same time as the offensive player, the play is blown dead and it’ll be a faceoff as usual in the defender’s zone. If the attacking player wins the race to the dot, the play will continue and not be blown dead. If the play is stopped and the puck doesn’t end up reaching the goal line, the faceoff will come out to center ice.
Next up are visors, which are being grandfathered into the league. Anyone who has played 26 games or less will be required to wear one. Also, if players are fighting, they can’t take the helmets off prior to the fight. To go along with the new visor rule, there is a rule assessing a two-minute penalty to anyone who takes their helmet off before a fight.
Another rule that’s been in the news this week is the jersey tuck rule. It’s not a new rule, it has actually been on the books for a while, but the league is going to step up enforcement on players who tuck their jersey in (sorry, Mariusz Czerkawski fans), have elbow pads showing or cut their pants. Players will get a warning on the first infraction and two minutes for delay of game on the second offense.
And last but not least, there have been some modifications to the nets. The nets are going to be four inches shallower, meaning there will be that much more room to maneuver behind the net for players. The corners of the net are also more of just that; they’re more corner-y. You might notice the puck taking some weird bounces off of them.
So enjoy the first night of hockey and hang in there. We’ll probably get used to hybrid icing just in time for the NHLPA to get rid of it.