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    Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

    Thought this might merit a different thread rather than burying it elsewhere in one of the others. Anyway, I have a couple of questions -one tactical, one rules based.

    Recently I have been standing on the other side of the rink that I had previously stood, and have therefore been opposite the benches rather than above them. This has led to me paying loads more attention to line-changes than I have before, and I'm quite interested in the tactics behind it all. Now obviously, you have your first line, second line etc, which may or may not feature the same players every night (HC Csikszereda, who I've been following in this way, seem to swap one or two out of the first line and into the second from night to night. There are basically 3 permanent members of the first line.*)

    So, what are the tactics and other considerations behind line-changing? Sometimes a line is only on the ice for about 30 seconds before getting switched, other times it is more like a minute and a half. Is the thinking that everyone on the bench needs to be getting on the ice very regularly so they don't stiffen up, or is it that a minute (on average) is about as much action as one player can take at any one time? (It doesn't seem that much, to be honest)

    Plus, how often do coaches switch things around, or play games with the line-changing. On Saturday, HC seemed to make a determined effort to play line 1 against SC's line 2 (and obviously vice versa). Do coaches play with this at all - leaving some lines on for longer periods, changing line compositions during the match, etc etc? (Apologies if these are stupid questions)

    On the rules, how many players can be suited up in one match? It seems like there are 3 lines that play here, but there is a 4th which get ice time when the game is pretty much over. What's the number of players you can play in a match?

    Thanks all

    (*Partly this is also related to league rules which state that no more than 5 foreigners (non-Romanians) can be on the bench in any one match - so on any given game two of the 7 they have on the books sit it out)

    #2
    Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

    Why can you see the puck in British ice hockey games, when you can never see it in NHL ones?

    Comment


      #3
      Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

      Line changing is considered a pretty serious "science", at least in North America, and is one of a coach's primary in-game considerations when it comes to tactics.

      As the game has gotten quicker, shifts have gotten significantly shorter. Whereas 2 minute shifts were not unusual when I was a little kid, it is pretty much impossible for current players to maintain the speed and intensity now required for that period of time, and the NHL average is probably somewhere around 75-90 seconds (though the frequent tv interuptions in NHL game make that figure hard to compute).

      The general tendancy is for each team to have at least one "checking line" which is tasked with trying to disrupt the opposition's number one "scoring line", and the fact the home team coach gets to make the last change in situations where the puck is out of play will often lead to various shenanigans trying to insure the proper matchups.

      Changing the composition of a line within a game is quite unusual (other than due to penalties or injuries), but they can change over the course of a season. In general, it is thought that players need a significant amount of playing together in order to form an effective unit.

      I think that the number of players who can be "dressed" for each game varies by league and competition. The NHL currently operates with 23 player active rosters, of which up to 20 can be dressed for any game, but the numbers in lower leagues (and in Europe, I think) are a bit lower.

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        #4
        Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

        Thanks ursus. Either the coach of HC doesn't really know his best line, or he is chopping and changing for some other reason. I think the first line has been different in every game I've seen.

        The gamesheet from Sunday's game suggests that you're allowed 22 players suited up in the MOL Liga (of whom, one is the back up goalie who doesn't get on the ice except in emergencies, so it's basically 4 lines + the 2 keepers)

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          #5
          Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

          Just in case Ball Comrade pops by, the coach of HC is a Tampere lad, by the way, Timo Lahtinen. (SC's coach is a Swede)

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            #6
            Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

            He may be trying to take advantage of particular matchups, and/or is not sure which of his lines is best suited to stopping SC's best scoring line. Given the relative lack of competition in the MOL league, he may be trying to get a line that has been used to scoring for fun to be much more concerned about checking their opponents, and that is often a difficult transition to make.

            Then again, my sense from the Italian league is that such tactical subtleties tend to be watered down considerably at this level of the game.

            Comment


              #7
              Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

              I will say, having played at the Baltimore Arena on the Baltimore Blast's indoor soccer pitch, that you get tired 10000% faster indoors than outdoors. You'd run three steps before hoping for a line change.

              We got eliminated from the tournament in the semis after we gutted out a 4-3 win in a 20 minute game, and then we immediately had to play one team that was training and playing in these tournaments on the field for years. Even though we were all high school and college players (some of whom who were at Rutgers and Seton Hall - top national programs at the time,) we lost 10-1. We simply couldn't move anymore.

              Comment


                #8
                Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                To add to Ursus's comments. Not only do line changes increase to as the game moves on, but, not infrequently, a coach might stop playing a line altogether. There's far more line changing within a game than there used to be even a few seasons back. For instance Alain Vigneault, the Canucks coach, tends to use four regular lines of two players and rotate right wingers with them throughout the game. When it it works he's hailed as a genius (coach of the year a couple of seasons back), when it doesn't he's accused of unsettling the players (team currently on eight game losing skid.) He would say it's a system that gets most out of the players he has, rather than being specifically tactical.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                  Why rotate right wingers?

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                    #10
                    Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                    The system is built around the Sedin twins (centre and wing.) They're the teams top scorers and are only effective when playing together, but finding a permanent third for their line just hasn't happened since Anson Carter left. It takes quite a while for anyone else to understand their bat-like communication skills, so Vigneault rotates all the right-wingers (Daniel shoots left usually) through their line on a regular basis. The learning curve is steep and this way, theoretically, everyone will eventually learn through experience. Reviews of the practice are mixed at best.

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                      #11
                      Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                      Isn't it better to have a right hand shot on the left wing and vice versa? It seems logical, but there are so many exceptions to it.

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                        #12
                        Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                        Maybe, but the Sedin's are unorthodox, that's part of the issue, Daniel is listed as a left-winger that shoots left. Added to that is the fact that cycling the puck around the boards is what they're best at, so their backs are to goal most of the time anyway. Makes it tough for anyone trying to join them.

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                          #13
                          Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                          The way McSorley plays his lines is interesting, with the 4th line, made mainly of kids, getting a lot more ice time that conventions hold true. As GSHC plays a high-tempo, physical game, the idea is to distribute the effort more equally to keep all the lines fresh enough.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                            I think (with regards to the NHL at least) that it largely depends on the coach as to when and why line changes are made. Some coaches will run mainly with only two lines and only use the others as checking lines to generate a bit of energy or momentum. Others like to rotate the scoring duties and have at least three offensive lines.

                            Of course, it also depends on the players available. If you can't field three strong lines, you don't have much choice...

                            When Denis Savard was at the Blackhawks earlier in the season he changed the composition of his lines infuriatingly often, with the result that the team was unable to sustain any real sense of rhythm.

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                              #15
                              Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                              the fact the home team coach gets to make the last change in situations where the puck is out of play will often lead to various shenanigans trying to insure the proper matchups.

                              Yes, a frequent tactic, especially late in the game with a key face-off, is to make sure you have two centres on the ice or at least another winger who can win the puck in case one gets kicked out of the circle. This obviously involves line juggling.

                              Younger coaches, like Vigneault, tend not to think so much of set first, second, or third lines. The first line becomes the one that's playing well that game.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                Did we mention that the home team gets last change during a stoppage and that a team can't change during the stoppage if it ices the puck?

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                                  #17
                                  Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                  The former (twice) but not the latter.

                                  The the no-change after icing rule is, of course, negated by TV time-outs which allow everyone to take breather anyway, bloody silly if you ask me.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                    Not always, but often.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                      The general absence of television timeouts actually has a significant influence on the way the game is played in Europe, particularly in "smaller" leagues like the one in Italy. It isn't unusual for an Italian game to go 8 or 10 minutes without a whistle, so changes on the fly are absolutely essential.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                        It's hard for me to imagine watching a game with TV timeouts, actually. How long does a period typically take in the NHL? Here it's about 30-40 minutes. Not sure if I've seen the game go on for as long as UA without a whistle - perhaps something to do with the lower quality of play here? But yes there are lots of changes on the fly.

                                        One more question/comment: What's the deal with penalties being cancelled out by a goal? It seems unfair that if a player has been penalised that his penalty is ended if a goal is scored. I mean I realise that the goal in a sense becomes the penalty, but I've seen matches in which a player gets a 10 minute penalty and is out within 1.

                                        Comment


                                          #21
                                          Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                          My guess is that 40 minutes would be sort of a minimum for a NHL period. One thing that does lead to more stoppages in minor European leagues is the absence of plexiglass all around the rink; more pucks go out of play than in the NHL.

                                          In the NHL, major penalties (5 minutes, usually for fighting) are not cancelled out by a goal. On the other hand, misconduct penalties (10 minutes, almost always for fighting) don't result in a team being short-handed. The idea is that allowing a power play for a minor penalty after a goal had already been scored would give the non-penalised team a disproportionate advantage, whereas that is not the case for a major. Non-penalised teams also benefit from being able to pull their goalie after a delayed penalty, as the whistle will be blown as soon as the penalised team gets the puck. Misconducts are viewed as personal sanctions, rather than as something that should hurt the team (and are also often handed out in pairs).

                                          Comment


                                            #22
                                            Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                            We have plexiglass here. Except where the benches are. It doesn't seem like that many go out of play though - I'd say the stops in play in order of frequency are:
                                            1. Goalie smothering/catching puck
                                            2. Offside
                                            3. Icing
                                            4. Penalty
                                            5. Puck out of play

                                            Maybe 2 and 3, and 4 and 5 might be reversed, not sure.

                                            I presume in higher quality leagues, offside and icing are less prevalent

                                            Comment


                                              #23
                                              Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                              The thing about misconducts, though, is that they are usually accompanied by at least a minor penalty. So in the situation ad hoc describes, a player could get a 2-minute penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. The power-play is over after the goal but the player is still out of action for the remainder of the ten minutes.

                                              I've forgotten - where is the NHL on coincidental minors these days? They've gone back and forth on it a few times (the Dave Semenko rule, we use to call it in the Smythe division). It leads to a 4-on-4 now, right?

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                                                #24
                                                Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                                Yes

                                                So in the situation ad hoc describes, a player could get a 2-minute penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.

                                                Yes but situations leading to two minute minor plus a ten minute misconduct are rare. Normally they assess a heavier team penalty (a double minor or a five minute major) before, or as well as, a misconduct.

                                                I presume in higher quality leagues, offside and icing are less prevalent

                                                They've both gone down a lot in the NHL since the introduction of the two line pass.

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                                                  #25
                                                  Questions for OTF's ice hockey experts

                                                  I don't see why TV should lead to more whistles. There are lots of changes on the fly in the NHL. It's not like they just arbitrarily stop the game to go to a commercial. But when there is a whistle, the break does drag a bit for TV.

                                                  College hockey is less accomodating of TV, I think. If a game is televised, they usually just squeeze in one ad per break. Usually for Menards (if it's a WCHA game) or Giant Auto Glass (if its a Hockey East game).

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