Friday, January 31, 2014

Hockey Differences

A few months ago, I posted about some of the differences in hockey in the United States versus in Europe. To read that post, you can click here. As a recap, the biggest difference to me was the pace of the game and how much more controlled hockey is in Sweden. Now that I've had a few more months of hockey here- both playing my own games, and watching Nick's, I figure its time to talk about some of the other differences!

A lot of the differences in Swedish hockey comes from the rule differences, which distinctly affect the play and style of play. One rule difference I noted right away- when a penalty is called, the face-off is automatically in the defensive zone for the offending team. This gives a distinct advantage to the power play team: firstly, they are poised to have an immediate scoring chance, secondly, when the penalty is called they are able to be more poised with the puck and take their time to set up a scoring opportunity, even taking the puck all the way back into the defensive zone to set up a breakout. In the US, you would not see a team bring the puck backwards simply because the face-off will be at the point closest to where the puck is touched by the offending team.

Another rule difference happens with a defensive team ices the puck. The line currently on the ice is not allowed to change, and referees enforce this by bringing players who attempted to change back onto the ice. In North American hockey, icing is often a tactic used to get a change if your team is having difficulties getting the puck out of the defensive zone. This gives another advantage to the team that has been controlling the puck, because they can continue to wear down the defensive team. By not allowing icing the puck to be a method of changing, hockey here has more of an emphasis on controlling the puck and controlled breakouts.

The final difference that I briefly touched on before is the physicality of a game here. European hockey simply does not have as much checking, and the checks that are thrown aren't as hard. Because hockey over here focuses more on control, there is less of an emphasis on hitting the opponent to remove him from the puck. And the fighting? Non-existent, unless you count the numerous after-the-whistle shoving matches. Occasionally, a punch may be thrown, but only as the player is already backtracking away from the potential fight- there is no intention of getting in a fight.

That's it for now! Big hockey weekend ahead- I have the final two games of my season, and a road game for Nick's team.

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