What are the rule differences between NHL and Olympic hockey?
There are a few minor differences between the games, but many of the major ones have been eliminated over the years.
One difference that will be apparent to viewers in the United States is the larger ice surface. While the length of the rink is generally the same, the Olympic ice rink is about 13 1/2 feet wider. This larger surface allows for more wide-open play.
Olympic ice also lacks the trapezoid behind the goal. In the NHL, that’s the only spot a goalkeeper can handle the puck behind the goal line without receiving a penalty.
The biggest difference in the two is the zero tolerance of fighting at the international level. While fighting receives a 5-minute penalty in North America – with further penalties possible based on escalation – it is forbidden in the Olympics.
A player who fights receives an automatic game misconduct or a match penalty, in addition to the normal 5-minute major.
There are also smaller differences in game play including no-touch icing and a slight tweak to faceoffs. In the NHL the visiting team’s player has to put his stick on the ice first for faceoffs. In international play it’s the attacking player in that portion of the ice.
Saturday’s U.S.-Russia game highlighted some of the differences that one might not have noticed otherwise:“No player may shoot twice until everyone who is eligible has shot,” the NHL rule book says
Yes, even Austria, a team that has a minus-10 goal differential through two games, has two.
The big teams – the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland and Russia – have rosters filled with players from the NHL and its Russian-based equivalent, the KHL.
Even the smaller teams have at least one or two NHL players. Anze Kopitar, one of the Kings’ best players when they won the Stanley Cup in 2012, is on Slovenia. Finland’s Teemu Selanne, who plays for the Ducks, is in his sixth Olympics at 43.
And then there’s one CHL player – Norway’s Henrik Odegaard, who has played in a visiting team’s sweater at Intrust Bank Arena for the Missouri Mavericks.