1. Whose blue line is it anyway?

    Hey Retta, 

    Thought I’d take some time to get you a few more notes on playing hockey. Let’s stick to the 3 points method:

    1. There are red lines and there are blue lines.

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    (Click here to see a larger version.)

    NHL ice rinks are divided by a red center line, blue lines to denote the start of each team’s defensive zone, and thinner red goal lines at the far ends of the ice. The space between the blue lines is the neutral zone or, of course, center ice.

    This is nearly rocket science right here, basically. 

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    2. Referees and linesmen, your benevolent on-ice overlords. 

    Like any sport, hockey has referees. They also have linesmen. In the NHL, games have 2 refs and 2 linesmen. That way there are multiple eyes watching really fast plays and not one lonely bro skating up and down the ice, trying to keep up and questioning every choice in his life that’s brought him to this terrible fate.

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    The refs are responsible for calling penalties and overseeing the game on-ice. The linesmen primarily monitor the blue lines and the red center line. They generally call “icing” and “off-side” plays but will also call some minor penalties. These stripes-clad badasses also get to break up fights.

    You can tell the refs from the linesman by the sassy orange armbands. Refs get the color flair. 

    3. Beware of icing and offside plays. 

    Let’s break these two calls down a bit more because it might seem like whistles are going off at random if you don’t know what you’re looking for with these.

    Off-side

    The puck must always enter the attacking zone ahead of attacking players. When any offensive player crosses the opposing team’s blue line and heads into the attacking zone ahead of the puck, there’s a whistle and the play is called “off-side.”

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    Bailey, get it together! (Bailey the Lion is the Kings mascot. More on him later.)

    Off-side plays are generally minor but can cause a fervor when a no-call on a possible off-side play leads to a goal.

    December 19, 2011: Toronto Maple Leafs fans were highly irritated when defenseman Drew Doughty (#8) straddled the Leafs’ blue line during a Kings power play and no off-side whistle came. Doughty eventually passed it to a teammate and seconds later the Kings scored a goal to put them in the lead. Leafs fan started grinding their teeth. 

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    Notice the linesman’s arms fanning out to indicate the play is still good. From what he saw, the puck touched the blue line but never went back into the neutral zone. Had it gone into the neutral zone, every Kings player would’ve needed to clear the Leafs’ blue line again before Doughty could bat it back into the Leafs’ zone. 

    When an off-side call is made, play is stopped and both teams face off in the neutral zone. 

    Icing

    So, the dotted red line center ice divides the ice in half. Duh [dot] blogspot [dot] com, I know. Bear with me. When a player bats or deflects the puck from their team’s half of the ice all the way down past the opposing team’s goal line, that’s “icing.”

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    Dammit, Bailey! 

    Usually, a player from each team will chase after the puck then, and the first team to touch the puck gets to bask in being faster than somebody else but, more importantly, it means the faceoff won’t be in his team’s zone.

    So, say you still have the Leafs and the Kings. The puck is sent across the center line and past the Kings’ goal line. Two players race to get to the puck, and a Kings player touches up first. The resulting face-off will happen on a red circle in the Leafs’ zone. 

    That spells danger for the Leafs, because if the Kings control the puck on the face-off, they can pull quick moves and shoot the puck right to the Leafs’ net. They’re already so close to it. 

    Here’s another example from a 2009 game against the Calgary Flames:

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    Err… Well, that could’ve been an icing call had Dion Phaneuf not knocked Anze Kopitar (#11) into next week. 

    Awkwardly, current Kings head coach Darryl Sutter was coaching the Flames at the time. How about that?