It seems like every year when the preseason rolls around the NHL has a different rule they want to hone in on. During the Golden Knights’ first season it was a focus on faceoff violations, a year later it was slashing, this year it’s cross-checking.
The league sent out a video showing their new interpretation of the rule, essentially indicating a renewed willingness to actually call the foul when it occurs.
Usually, these little tweaks are just something that players have to get used to and as the season goes on it becomes less and less of an issue. With this one though, if NHL refs do indeed follow through calling it the entire season, and into the playoffs, it could offer a real competitive advantage for the Golden Knights.
It’s going to be easier to get to the front of net for sure, so I think there are going to be more goals. I think it’s going to be tough for defensemen to find a solution but I think the biggest thing is going to be getting on our sticks to not allow tips. -Marchessault
Getting to the front of the net, and then succeeding when they get there, has been a thorn in the side of the Golden Knights. In playoff series against Vancouver, Dallas, Minnesota, and Montreal the area in front of goals has been a problem. Against Dallas and Montreal specifically, Vegas had a difficult time generating any traffic between the shooter and the goalie, which led to a lot of clean looks for Anton Khudobin and Carey Price.
Maybe, and this assumes the rule change is implemented and carried out over the course of an 82-game season and into the postseason, just maybe this could make life a little easier for forwards trying to get to the most dangerous area on the ice.
Well I’m probably going to take a few paddings off my shoulder pads. -Marchessault
On the other side of the ice, defensemen appear to be playing it down.
I don’t really think it changes much. Last time I checked you can’t violently cross-check somebody in the back. There’s certain things, they are looking at the force, but I don’t think unless you’re really angry or have a tendency to do that type of cross-check a lot, that it’ll change anything, so I’m not too concerned. -Martinez
Either way, the Golden Knights definitely seem interested in making sure they understand the new standard and have a focus on it in the preseason.
Refs teaching some VGK guys about the new "interpretation" of the cross-check rule.
Basically, this year they are going to call them. pic.twitter.com/NGWQ5Uhn1j
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) September 25, 2021
We talked to Steve (Kozari) about it. I think it’s just an emphasis the league wants to make. We got a good explanation from him, it’s nice sometimes talking to a referee who will be looking for it instead of just watching a video. -Martinez
In the first preseason game, it was called just once, against VGK defenseman Zack Hayes. After the game, DeBoer said he disagreed with the call but said as a whole the game seemed fairly called regarding the rule.
Heading into the game, he was concerned about how the change could affect his team on the defensive end.
It’s going to take some getting used to. Guys are used to around the net engaging offensive players and we’ve got some big guys, Whitecloud, Hague, McNabb, that do that on a regular basis. We’re going to have to make some adjustments. I don’t like to see (physical battles) overlegislated out of the game because I think it’s important, so we’ll see, the jury’s out on what that looks like. -DeBoer
Like any rule in hockey, there are two sides to the coin. A change that helps offense hurts defensemen, and vise versa. At face value, this appears to be one that could really assist the Golden Knights in an area they struggle, but they also finished last year with their names inscribed on the Jenning’s Trophy.
Time will tell which way it goes for VGK, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. With a team this close to winning the Cup, something this small could make all the difference.