The 2017-2018 NHL regular season kicks off in just a few days, and there will be a few rule changes that fans and teams will have to keep in mind going into the season.
While the rule changes won’t affect NHL betting odds for the season, they are expected to make the game run at a more steady pace while maintaining player safety.
One of the biggest rule changes the NHL made this year is the alteration of the offside challenge rule. Last season, coaches took advantage of the recently implemented rule and challenged plays hoping a goal would be called back. If it didn’t get overturned, at least it gave their players a little breather.
Things are expected to change in a big way this season as the NHL has decided to penalize teams for failed challenges. Starting this season, any failed challenge will result in a two-minute minor, which will no doubt reduce the number of and frequency of challenges.
Last season, which was the second season in which coaches could challenge offsides calls, there were 117 challenges compared to 88 the previous year. Seventy-eight of the challenges were upheld, while 39 were overturned. In 2015, 53 of the 88 challenges were upheld while 35 were overturned.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is trying to discourage coaches from using the challenge on offsides plays. Bettman added that the option to challenge was put in place to reduce the errors made by referees; by imposing a penalty for unsuccessful challenges, the league hopes to deter coaches from using them unless they are certain they will win the challenge.
Here are three other rule changes NHL fans will notice this year.
No More Timeouts After Icing Calls
Since the 2005 season, teams have been unable to make line changes after an icing call. When necessary, coaches have been able to circumvent the rule by calling a timeout to give their players some rest.
This year, the loophole has been closed. Coaches will no longer be allowed to call timeout after an icing call. Bettman said the intent of the rule in the first place was to prevent players from getting extra rest when they are tired by icing the puck.
Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf doesn’t think the rule will cut down on icing and thinks coaches will still figure out a way around it by putting out their top lines when the puck is iced.
Players have been violating faceoffs for years, but the NHL hopes to put an end to that this season. Officials will be calling penalties on players for not obeying the markings around the faceoff circles. As you may have noticed, the refs have been calling it during the preseason, leading to frequent minor penalties for faceoff infractions. Expect that to continue into the regular season.
Stephen Walkom, the NHL’s director of officiating, said the main goal behind the rule change is to get the game back to what it was like in the 1990’s, when the markings were put in to make the game safer.
Lastly, while slashing has always been against the rules, the league is clamping down on it even more this year. The league has directed referees to pay more attention to slashes and to specifically target slashes around the hands with the hopes of reducing injuries and improving overall play.