While watching the Olympic hockey you may notice some differences between the way the game is regulated compared to the NHL. It starts with the ice surface itself and stretches to the roster size of the teams bench.
The Olympic tournament is governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation and its rulebook differs from the NHL’s in many ways.
No touch icing, and no trapezoids to constrict goaltenders are just the beginning. In the Olympics, teams can dress 20 players and 2 goaltenders, two more extra skaters compared to the NHL.
Teams will typically go with 13 forwards and seven defensemen.
Fighting regulations are much stricter, a player will receive a game misconduct or a match penalty – other player safety measures are in place as well, including mandatory visors (clear only, no tint or color allowed) for anyone born after 1974. A check from behind or check to the head rules are stringent as well…
A player called for checking from behind in the Olympics will be assessed either a minor penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct, or a five-minute major plus an automatic game misconduct or match penalty. In the NHL, there is no minor penalty component, only a five-minute major plus a game misconduct or a match penalty.
The IIHF also has stricter punishment for illegal checks to the head. A player who receives a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head will also receive a 10-minute misconduct. If he gets a major penalty for an illegal check to the head it comes with a game misconduct.
More meticulous regulations deal with faceoffs, line-changes, and high sticking. In the NHL the visiting team must place their stick on the ice first during a face-off, this does not apply in the Olympics and is tweaked to the attacking team must place their stick on the ice first. Teams have the same amount of time to change lines during a stoppage of play, neither team receives any extra time – the home team gets last change in the NHL. Finally, high sticking…
In the Olympics, if a player plays the puck with a high stick in his defending zone or in the neutral zone the ensuing faceoff will take place at the nearest faceoff area in his defending zone.
The IIHF rulebook calls for a minor penalty to a player who accidentally high sticks an opponent on the windup or follow-through of a shot or a pass. In the NHL, no such minor penalty exists.
As you can see their are a lot of differences in the way the Olympic games will be regulated, some may be more apparent than others. Normal calls in the game regarding icing, where a goalie can play the puck, and stricter fighting regulations will be among the most noticeable. Keep an eye out for the other changes, it will be interesting to see the differences and how they may affect the play of the game.