NHL Mulls Rules Changes to Increase Scoring

Several huge NHL names met yesterday to discuss possible rules changes to increase scoring in the league. One of the most substantive changes was given the shortest shrift by the AP: a return to tag-up offsides.

NCAA hockey uses tag-up offsides, and that rule allows offenses to hold the puck in the offensive zone far longer than NHL offenses are capable of doing. In the NHL, if an offensive player crosses the blue line into the offensive zone before the puck does, the play is immediately blown dead and the puck dropped at the face-off dot in the neutral zone nearest the infraction.

In the college game, a player who was lagging in the zone—perhaps because he was deep in the corner when the puck was cleared out by the defense—can not get whistled for offsides if he’s not the object of the puck crossing the zone uncontrolled–that is, he’s not the recipient of a pass. If the offsides player skates out to neutral ice and then re-enters the zone before the puck is controlled by the offensive team, the play is not blown down. Skating back out to neutral ice is called “tag-up” offsides, since you “tag up” on the blue line.

Allowing a team to dump the puck in uncontrolled while players clear the zone and tag up keeps the offensive pressure going. Often you’ll see a team dump a puck into the zone uncontrolled in a tag-up position to allow the offensive forwards an opportunity to get a partial or full line change in place.

I think keeping offensive tempo will have far, far more effect on scoring than decreasing the width of goalie pads or not allowing the goaltender to play the puck behind the net. I could be wrong, but I see tempo continually causing fatigue on the defensive team, and tired players make mistakes, and defensive mistakes allow teams to score goals.

Todd and Anthony may feel free to disagree on the pad question, though.


  1. I agree whole-heartedly! As a goalie, player, and official, I see Bettman’s ideas for bigger nets and reducing gear size not only as a bad idea, but also as a blatant reminder that he has absolutely no understanding of the game and how to play it. After watching the Frozen Four this year, it was obvious what needs to be done. 2-line pass? Don’t need it. Tag up off sides? It would sure help. The final three games were some of the best hockey I’ve seen in awhile. Fast paced, lots of scoring CHANCES… are you hearing this Bettman? It’s scoring CHANCES people want, not scoring. Is it that difficult to understand? If the officials would call the penalties as they are supposed to, playing the trap and dragging down the game would not happen, and their would be no problems. Call the penalties, open up the ice; that’s all that needs to be done. Leave our gear and nets alone. And leave hockey alone. Bettman, get out of hockey. You don’t have the slightest idea on how to play the game, much less make it better.

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