What The San Jose Sharks Will Gain From NHL Rule Changes

Earlier this month the NHL announced several rule changes that will be effective in the 2014-2015 season. While all of the rules will have an effect on the San Jose Sharks, there are a few that the Sharks should benefit immensely from. So lets take it from the top and see all of the rule changes as well as what they mean for the Sharks.

Rule 1.8 Rink- Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area

Simply put, this rule change increased the size of the trapezoid behind each net by 2 feet from each post. For a goalie like Antti Niemi, who’s skating and puck-handling skills aren’t anything special, this rule doesn’t mean much. For Alex Stalock however, this could be a huge difference maker. Stalock showcased his skating and puck-handling skills a lot last season. He was often seen skating behind the net and dishing the puck up to his defensemen or forwards to help start a quick rush. More room to work around the net means Stalock’s skills will have an even bigger impact on the game, so the Sharks stand to gain a lot from this rule change with #32 in the net.

Rule 23- Game Misconduct Penalties

This rule created a new category for game misconduct penalties. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending are now considered “Physical Fouls” that fall under the same category as things like boarding and checking from behind. Any player who gets two game misconduct penalties in this category is automatically suspended for one game. This isn’t something I’d expect the Sharks to have a whole lot of trouble with. They’ve been pretty good about avoiding these types of penalties for the most part, so it doesn’t seem like they’ll be on the wrong end of this one.

Rule 24- Penalty Shot

The spin-o-rama is now an illegal move to attempt during a penalty shot, or a shootout attempt. Again this isn’t something I’ve seen a Sharks player attempt at all in recent memory,  so I think it is safe to say that this is another one the Sharks won’t be hurt by.

Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge

“Video review will be expanded in the following areas:

Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals. The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a ‘goal’ or ‘no goal’ call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.”

This change has to be the Sharks absolute favorite. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization retired the number 38 in honor of this rule. Why would the Sharks go that far? Because of all the teams in the NHL they stand to gain the most from this one. What this rule does is greatly expand video review of goals to ensure that Hockey Operations can help the referees on the ice get the call right when determining if a goal is good or no good.

Oh how this would’ve changed things last year. I’m sure there are thousands of Sharks fans out there who can instantly remember 5 or 6 goals off the top of their head that were waved off due to a referee’s “intent to blow the whistle” during the season. And who can forget the infamous Justin Williams goal in game 6? (Sorry to reopen old wounds everyone, but I had to go there). Rather than reminisce on all of the blown calls and mistakes of the past, lets look ahead to a brighter and higher scoring future thanks to the changes made to Rule 38.

Rule 57- Tripping

“The rule relating to Tripping will be revised to specifically provide that a two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player dives and trips an attacking player with his body, arm or shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.

But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player dives and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)”

This is an interesting change to the tripping rule. It definitely will force a defenseman to adjust his game and be more careful to avoid contact with anything but the puck when diving to make a play. I don’t see this having any more or less of an impact on the Sharks than it would on any other team in the league.

Rule 64- Diving/Embellishment

“The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.”

Ah, now here’s a rule that could end up costing a few Sharks some money. I don’t think the Sharks are as bad about diving or embellishing as a few other teams in the league, but they’re definitely guilty of it more often than they should be. I like this rule change, mostly because it’s going to force players to play the game more and sell calls less. I understand wanting to gain a competitive advantage, but there are ways to draw a penalty without all of the excessive diving and “head-snapping” that’s been occurring all too often lately. Hopefully the Sharks players who have been guilty of this in the past will change going forward; along with players all across the league. Diving/Embellishment has no place in the NHL and it is good to know that the league will be cracking down on it more.

Rule 76- Faceoffs

“To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.”

Here is another rule that the NHL was wise to change. Every team in the league is guilty of this tactic, but it ramped up to a whole new level in the 2014 postseason. So much so that some games actually slowed to a halt at times when teams would ice the puck frequently under duress. All in all this change serves to increase the pace of the game and forces teams who ice the puck more frequently pay a heavier price for doing so. This is a great move by the NHL to ensure that the game will continue to be played at a fast pace and with the highest level of intensity.

Rule 84- Overtime

“Teams will switch ends prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

The entire ice surface will undergo a “dry scrape” prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

The procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shoot-out has been eliminated.”

Pretty straightforward, this change looks to increase the quality of 4 on 4 overtime hockey by giving the players a little extra rest time while also providing a better sheet of ice for overtime hockey. As far as the shootout rule goes, it should be interesting to see how it effects a goaltenders ability to prepare for shooters.

Rule 85- Puck Out of Bounds

“There have been further rule changes made relating to face-off location to avoid penalizing teams for plays intended to create bona fide scoring opportunities. Specifically, the following are categories of plays where face-offs will remain in the attacking zone despite the fact that the attacking team was technically responsible for the stoppage in play: Shots at the net by a player on the attacking team where: (i) the shot breaks the glass; (ii) the shot goes off the side of the net and deflects out of play; (iii) the shot goes off the dasher boards or glass and deflects out of play; (iv) the shot is tipped or deflected out of play by a teammate; and (v) the shot becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net.”

I think the Sharks will benefit from this rule a little more than most other teams. This is definitely a good move by the league to increase scoring. The rule looks to keep attacking teams in the offensive zone as much as possible, and should have a noticeable effect especially when teams are doing a good job of pinning opposing players in their defensive zone. The Sharks are a team that can really sustain offensive pressure due to the high number of excellent play making forwards and puck moving defenders they have. Anything that helps keep this team in the offensive zone will have a positive impact on score sheet for them.

Rule 1.9 – Rink – Face-off Spots and Circles – Ice Markings/Hash Marks

“The hash marks at the end zone circles will be moved from three feet apart to five feet, seven inches apart (international markings).”

That’s about it for the rule changes. Overall I think the Sharks will benefit greatly from a lot of these changes, and I’m definitely excited to see how much the improved video review increases the accuracy of calls made across the league.