Capitals

Capitals

A rule change for the upcoming season could (hopefully) lead to a serious reduction in the number of offside challenges from coaches.

For the 2017-18 season, a failed offside coach's challenge for will result in a two-minute penalty against the team that called the review. This was first reported by Elliotte Friedman. Previously a failed challenge would result only in the loss of a timeout. A penalty by itself is a much more severe punishment especially given that this could result in a two-goal swing.

Consider if a team challenged a goal scored against them and lost. Not only would they have given up a goal, they would then face an immediate power play.

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This rule will only apply to offside challenges and not goalie interference challenges which will still result in the loss of a timeout. Since offside is a much more clear rule than the always confusing goalie interference, this distinction makes sense.

The NHL is trying to increase scoring and the pace of the game. An offside challenge does the opposite. It stops the game in its tracks and takes goals off the board. Yet, the league seems to think the rule is working. General managers decided during their meetings in March that there was no reason to change the offside challenge and Gary Bettman defended the rule right before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final which saw the very first goal from P.K. Subban overturned.

 

So why make this change if the challenge is apparently working so well? Perhaps another upcoming rule change had something to do with it.

Starting this season, teams will no longer be able to take a timeout after icing the puck. Unlike in football where coaches can strategically manage the clock or in basketball where timeouts are handed out like candy, timeouts are rarely used in hockey. Each team only gets one and the vast majority of timeouts are called after an icing. When a team ices the puck, it cannot change lines which can be a major advantage later in games. Coaches will use their timeouts in order to give their players a quick breather since they can't sub out.

If teams can no longer use timeouts after an icing, at that point they really only have one major purpose: challenges. Sure, coaches can still use them at any other point in a game, but realistically they would primarily be saved for challenges which would result in even more stoppages in play. Mercifully, the NHL is not going to let this happen.

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