Last nights’ Game 4, St. Louis Blues versus Minnesota Wild, had quite a few face-offs being deemed “unfairly dropped” by the referee. I decided to dig a little deeper into the rules and regulations of these calls. NHL rule 76.6 states that Violations can be considered ….If a center should move prematurely prior to the face-off, or “if the Referee or Linesman shall have dropped the puck unfairly, the face-off shall be considered a face-off violation and it must be conducted again.” This includes if the puck does not hit the ice first, but hits a players stick on the drop, it is called an unfair face-off and is repeated. I did notice this happened a couple of times during last nights game.
Some other face-off facts to consider are listed below.
With refs, it comes down to the fact that there are some fairly specific rules regarding stance and stick placement during a face-off, to prevent unfair advantages.
Players can get thrown out of a face-off for many reasons. Some are:
Not having your skates positioned properly — players have to stay within the red lines at the face-off circle until the puck is dropped.
Making contact with the other player before the puck drops.
Making contact with the other player’s stick before the puck drops.
Not having your stick on the ice before the puck drop (I read this as one of the reasons, but honestly, I’m not sure how much this is enforced, because I see players with sticks not touching the ice all the time). The “visiting” player gets to position his stick on the ice first at center ice. The defending player gets first stick placement in the other zones.
There are some other rules too (look up NHL rule 76 Face-offs), but those are the main ones.
Why does it seems they have to redo face-offs more in the playoffs? It’s probably a combination of the refs being extra careful to make sure that no one is getting an unfair edge, and players trying as hard as they can to get an edge without breaking the rules (or without getting caught breaking the rules).
(By the way Game 4 face-off stats were 51% won by the Wild and 49% won by the Blues.)
Hope this helps explain all the face-off repeats….
Let’s wrap this series up and get a rest before we move on! Let’s Go Blues!