Hockey has so many abstruse rules that you seemingly learn something new every day. This apparently goes for future Hall of Fame hockey players too.
Thursday night during the second period of the Capitals 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Good Guy Alex Ovechkin gave his newly stick-less teammate, Tom Wilson, a new twig.
It was a heads up play by Ovechkin, except there was one tiny problem.
As Wilson approached the bench, Ovechkin tried to speed up the process by tossing the stick to the team’s enforcer as he skated by.
It was an amazing sequence, but linesman Vaughan Rody was not impressed and whistled play dead immediately. Fans watching at home and in the arena were confused. So were most Capitals players.
According to the NHL rule book, Ovechkin violated rule number 75 and committed unsportsmanlike conduct.
75.3 Bench Minor Penalty – A bench minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct shall be assessed under this rule for the following infractions:
(i) When a player, Coach or non-playing Club personnel throws any object onto the ice from the players’ or penalty bench (or from any other location) during the progress of the game or during a stoppage of play.
Alan May commented that it was only a rule you learn about until you experience it for yourself.
This is one of those penalties that most fans don’t know about, same with players, until it happens and you get called for two https://t.co/UB77ZNxXD5
— Alan May (@MayHockeyNBCS) January 12, 2018
Surely, May, a veteran of 858 hockey games across 8 different leagues, had seen this penalty called during his 15 years playing professional hockey.
“Never ever,” May said in a message.
Brett Connolly would end up serving the penalty. The Capitals would kill off Carolina’s resulting power play.
But that wasn’t the only strange moment that dealt with a weird rule.
The Caps also were confused after giving up Carolina’s game-winning goal. During a delayed penalty on Tom Wilson, the Caps believed they had possession of the puck after Brooks Orpik whacked the puck out of the air, which would have caused the play to be whistled dead. Instead Orpik’s clearing attempt found Victor Rask’s stick who scored past Holtby.
Here’s a look at the play.
On a historically significant day for the franchise, the Hurricanes picked up an important regulation victory that helped them move up the standings.
Victor Rask scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Hurricanes beat the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals 3-1. pic.twitter.com/RaAH6TMgnJ
— betitodotcom-sports (@betitodotcom) January 12, 2018
“That’s the whole question of possession and I think intentionally whacking a puck is possession because you’re directing it,” Matt Niskanen said to NBC Sports Washington’s JJ Regan. “Now if you’re just tipping a pass, that’s not possession.”
“We all were confused by it and frustrated by it especially when that winds up being the winning goal,” Brooks Orpik said according to Tarik El-Bashir.
“We were all confused by it and frustrated by it, especially when that winds up being the winning goal.”—Brooks Orpik on the #Canes’ delayed penalty goal in the third period on Thursday. #Caps #CapsCanes pic.twitter.com/4iI2WEEz22
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) January 12, 2018
Rule 409 of the NHL rulebook says “play will be stopped immediately when the offending team gains possession and control of the puck and the penalty (s) assessed to the offending player (s).”
Orpik never had control of the puck. Regardless, according to Regan, Barry Trotz was going to ask the league for clarification.
Let us know what they say, Barry. We’re still learning the nuance of the game too. Just like you.