Rule 63.2 is pretty simple since the NHL instituted it in 2005. Shoot the puck over the glass from the defensive zone and it’s a delay-of-game penalty.
It’s pretty clear-cut, but that doesn’t mean it’s popular.
“I could do without it because I used to always put the puck over the glass,” said Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who escaped a call Saturday in Game 2 against the New York Rangers. “I think I’ve been called on that a few times in my career. It is what it is. You’ve just got to pay more attention, I guess.”
A puck-over-the-glass penalty on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh led to the Caps’ game-winning power-play goal in overtime and plenty of debate as to the validity of the rule that was designed to prevent players from deliberately sending the puck flying into the crowd to get a stoppage.
“I don’t like it because I’m a defenseman,” Mike Green said. “I’m in the same situation, but I don’t try to go off the glass. I’d rather high-flip it.”
Count coach Adam Oates and goaltender Braden Holtby among those in favor of the rule, even though it almost cost the Caps with a penalty on defenseman Steve Oleksy earlier in overtime.
“It’s designed so that there’s no free plays anymore,” Oates said. “[Oleksy] didn’t control the puck, he shot it in the stands. That’s a wasted possession. It wasn’t as threatening or he wasn’t necessarily tired, but it’s a mistake. They want to try and figure out every mistake that they can in the league.”
Oates added: “I think it’s a good rule, yes. I would say on the penalty with them, he was tired and maybe that’s why.”
Before 2005, it was nicknamed the Martin Brodeur rule because it was just for goaltenders. The trapezoid took away opportunities for goalies to handle the puck more, and now the rule doesn’t discriminate.
Rule 63.2 reads: “When any player, while in his defending zone, shoots or bats (using his hand or his stick) the puck directly (non-deflected) out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass, a penalty shall be assessed for delaying the game.”
“They’re frustrating to take, but I think they’re a benefit to the game,” Holtby said. “It’s such an easy play now. Guys are so skilled. If you get under pressure, you flip it over. It’s a good penalty. You don’t want to take them, obviously, in a key situation of the game.”
Alzner almost took one with 46 seconds left in the third period of a scoreless game. The puck went off his stick and out, but the officials conferred and decided it was not a penalty.
The defenseman had something of a premonition about a similar play Friday night. That’s really not unusual for Alzner to be wondering about hockey when he’s not playing.
“It was weird,” he said. “I was thinking about a play, if a guy passed it from side to side and I stuck my stick out and tipped it out of the zone, would they call a penalty on me? You never know. And then I started thinking, and this play actually game up. It was kind of a weird coincidence.”
Alzner could do without the rule that Oleksy and McDonagh got busted on, and defenseman Mike Green agreed. But Green implied it’s avoidable.
“I don’t like it because I’m a defenseman, and I’m in the same situation, but I don’t try to go off the glass,” he said. “I’d rather high-flip it.”
But a lot of players try to bank the puck off the glass. And it’s not just an issue for defensemen.
“It’s really tough when you’re coming around the net when the puck’s rolling on you,” right wing Eric Fehr said. “It’s a tough play to make. You just got to make sure you keep it down. The ice gets pretty bad by the end and you don’t want to take those chances to be putting it off the glass.”
The other problem is that the NHL instituted it eight years ago and it’s not uniform throughout other levels of hockey.
“One of the things that’s hard is for most of the players [is] it’s new,” Oates said. “They’ve been playing their whole life one way and all of a sudden you’re throwing this situation in that every once in awhile it happens where a guy bats it out of the air. That’s the reaction the guy’s done his whole life. Now you’re asking him to change that. That makes it tough.”
Or, as Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday afternoon, “It’s a rule.” Yes it is.