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little bit and give him some breathing space

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn. Denver Nuggets Store .ca. Hello Mr. Fraser, With all the changes being made to increase scoring and offensive play in the NHL, why do the linesmen continue to stand on the outside of the blue line? This appears to create too many unnecessary stoppages in play due to offsides during offensive zone entry, where the puck is sent into the linesmens skates/legs and he has not enough time to react to allow the entry to proceed according to plan. I just checked online and what I found says they should be inside the blue line, but they seem to always be just outside (or at least I notice more when that happens, rather that when the chip in hits them and their arm doesnt go up because they are inside the line). Is it because in some rinks the glass starts at the blue line and they have to prop themselves up onto the ledge of the players bench to avoid being hit by the puck? Maybe these incidents tend to occur mostly in those rinks and not the ones where the bench extends further into the zone past the blue line. Thanks for reading!Rich Mandez Hi Rich: There are a few potential obstacles in the current NHL that the linesmen have to be aware of and overcome as they set up to make the correct call at the attacking blue line. - The removal of the center red line for the purpose of a two-line offside pass stretches the attacking zone all the way to the far blue line. - The enhanced standard by the referees to eliminate restraining fouls has created considerable speed through the neutral zone as teams transition more quickly on the attack. - Players are much bigger on average than any other era of the game, creating additional congestion on the ice. (Have you noticed the towering size of many of the current crop of linesmen as well?) - The "four-man officiating system" has added another body on the ice; one of which always leads the play by skating backwards into the attacking zone. Often his entry into the zone can be on the same side of the ice that the linesman making the off-side call at the blue line is positioned. - They are required to support their fellow linesman close to the foreword blue line in the event that he is bumped off the line and then must reverse direction quickly as the play transitions in the other direction toward the blue line that is his primary responsibility. Fast breaks can make this quite challenging. The bottom line Rich is that the linesman must do whatever is necessary to assume the very best position in order to see the puck cross the inside edge of their respective blue line ahead of any attacking player. This requires skating skill, speed, agility and athleticism which the NHL linesmen demonstrate on a consistent basis during every game! The "best position" is often obtained by sliding into the zone just ahead of the play and to gain an "unobstructed view" of the inside edge of the blue line. This inside position also allows the puck to cross the line cleanly without restriction by accidentally striking a linesman in the neutral zone as you suggest Rich. Once the puck enters the zone legally, the linesman is then required to immediately reposition himself outside the blue line in the neutral zone to prevent his body and skates from interfering with the pucks exit from the zone. In theory this sounds like a pretty simple process doesnt it Rich. In practice however, given the bullet point obstacles I mentioned and others I didnt, its not at all easy to accomplish. I am amazed at the close plays on the blue line that are almost always ruled correctly by the linesmen. These are the times we never even notice them. Often the only time we do notice the linesmen is on the rare occasion when the puck does hit them on dump or chip when they havent yet assumed that best position inside the zone through some unavoidable circumstance. When players gain the red line and pound the puck in their direction the linesmen are most vulnerable to being struck and even injured. They should avoid sitting up on the boards because from this position they are most vulnerable to being hit without any means of escape other than by being knocked into the players bench!  I can assure you the linesmen do their very best to stay out of the way of the puck and flow of play but at times it just isnt possible.  Perhaps your question here Rich will inspire the linesmen to work a little harder at gaining the most desired location inside the line whenever possible. The most creative linesman I ever worked with and certainly one of the very best of all-time is Hockey Hall of Fame linesman Ray Scapinello (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008). Ray was no giant at 57" tall but was lightning fast on his skates and earned the respect of every player and coach in the League. When Scotty Morrison hired 611" linesman Mike Cvik he paired him with the diminutive Scapinello in his first assignment in Toronto. Aside from the opportunity to learn from one of the best in Scapinello, Scotty demonstrated his sense of humor by putting Mutt and Jeff together in that game. When I was added to that tandem as the referee Scamp and I told big Honda not to stand near us for the National Anthem! Ray Scapinello read the play just as quickly as he skated and demonstrated a unique flair in making his calls on the blue line. Im sure he might have missed a call or two over his career because no one is perfect but I must confess I cant ever remember seeing him miss one in the many, many big games we worked together! Scamp would not only get inside the zone ahead of the play but on the close ones he would be down on one knee with his eyes set like a laser on the inside edge of the blue line. He did whatever was necessary to make the call. One time as players approached him with speed down the wall, rather than bump into the attacking zone I witnessed Ray jump into the players bench at the blue line to make the call;. The players seated on the bench had a stunned look on their face as Scampy made a washout signal from their side of the boards and then jumped back onto the ice once the attacking players passed by. Scampy always found a way to make the call from the best and most desired position. I am sure his advice to the current group of linesmen is to read and react to the play quickly and then move your feet to get in the best and most desired position to make the call.  Ray Scapinello is without a doubt one of the very best linesman in the history of the NHL. Denver Nuggets Gear . But its also a smart game. Theres more to the Kings than banging bodies. They take a toll mentally on their opponents. Fake Nuggets Jerseys . The All-Pro left tackle agreed to a five-year contract with the Eagles on Wednesday. Peters was signed for 2014, and his new deal adds four years through 2018.NEWARK – The Maple Leafs are teetering on the edge of another late season collapse. Five straight losses (and six in the past seven) now dot the schedule – matching their longest skid of the year – after they fell again in New Jersey on Sunday night, topped 3-2 by Cory Schneider and the Devils. Playoff fortunes that once appeared secure have slipped into a more precarious state with a troubling tumble in the past week. All-too-recently fighting for second spot in the Atlantic division, Toronto has fallen to the edge of the playoffs, now in the second wild card position – mere inches ahead of Washington and Columbus – with only nine games to play. “The bottom line,” said head coach Randy Carlyle after the latest loss, “is its a results-orientated sport and we have to find a way to stop the bleeding here and do everything in our power to regroup with this hockey club and get them playing to a higher level.” If not playing entirely badly these days, the Leafs are doing just enough to lose, be it through sluggish starts, highly visible defensive breakdowns, and ordinary goaltending. On this night they fell behind for the seventh straight game, allowed a pair of goals via odd-man rush and breakaway, and had their backup goaltender struggle again to come up with a timely save. “I dont think were playing that bad,” said Phil Kessel, who scored his 36th of the year in defeat, crashing into the goal-post in doing so. “[But] its a tough stretch Ill tell you that much.” Tough stretch, indeed. It was only 11 days earlier, after James Reimer stole victory in Los Angeles, that the Leafs appeared in prime position for their second straight playoff spring. They sat three points up on the Lightning and Canadiens, 10 on the Capitals, nine on the Red Wings, seven on the Flyers, and six on the Rangers and Blue Jackets. Five of the seven has since passed them over, only Columbus and Washington trailing – just barely, mind you, with games in hand. Its been a remarkable spiral in a very short window, different in that way from the infamous 18-wheeler collapse of 2012 which cost Ron Wilson his job. The Leafs couldnt emerge unscathed from that storm, but can they find a way out of this one? Pressure is building, time is ticking, and the race is kicking into high gear with the Blues, Flyers and Wings all on deck in the coming week. Concern was evident as they exited the visitors dressing room, one by one at Prudential Center, keen to the reality of whats at stake. “We lost five in a row here right so its building here,” said Kessel of the pressure. “Obviously we need some wins.” Five Points 1. The Struggle Continues His confidence all but shattered at this point, Reimer was yanked for the sixth time this season. He yielded three goals on 10 shots, his save percentage in relief of the injured Jonathan Bernier dipping to .889 in six appearances. The 26-year-old has not won a start in more than two months (Jan. 21). Of that sunken confidence, Reimer concurred. “Its never high after a loss obviously and getting pulled,” he said. “[But] as crazy as it sounds I know Im becoming a better goalie and obviously a better person.” Ever the optimist, Reimer explained why. “Its been a ton of adversity in many different forms,” he said. “And so when you can weather it and keep your chin up you just get better.” Appearing in just his fifth NHL game, Drew MacIntyre stopped all 14 shots he faced in place of Reimer. Where that leaves the Leafs crease with St. Louis on deck is unclear. Carlyle didnt know if Bernier (groin) would be available for the Tuesday affair. If hes not for the sixth straight game, its not hard to envision MacIntyre getting his first NHL start. 2. Finger Pointing The Leafs have been a poor defensive team all year, requiring fantastic goaltending most nights from Bernier to have success. Theyve not gotten such heroics in relief with Reimer. His days in Toronto soon to be numbered, Reimer could not fend off an odd-man rush late in the opening frame – Morgan Rielly caught up ice, Nazem Kadri stuck on a bad line change – beaten glove-side by Damien Brunner. Faked out by Patrik Elias when he snuck behind the defence on the second Devils goal, Reimer then yielded a late squeaker that ultimately drove the hook from Carlyle. “We havent helped him out one bit,” said Tyler Bozak, charged in his defence of Reimer. “Obviously its easy to pick on the goalie when things are going bad for a team. But its a team game. We win and lose as a team. We havent been playing near well enough to win games. It hasnt been him at all.” “Usually in this type of playoff atmosphere youve got to find a way to knuckle down and play a tighter brand of defensive hockey,” Carlyle ssaid. Nuggets Jerseys 2020. “We seem to be able to give up those opportunities early and then we seem to tighten up as the game goes on.” 3. Season Gone Wrong Just a night before his first game back in New Jersey as a member of the Leafs, David Clarkson barely saw the ice. He played just eight minutes and 54 seconds in the 4-3 loss to Montreal, his lowest total (save for injury) since Nov. 5, 2010. A season gone wrong has seen no signs of let-up for the 29-year-old, who left the Devils last summer for a seven-year deal with the Leafs worth more than $36 million. From suspension to injuries to suspension to struggles to find a role, Clarkson has had few, if any, positives this season. “The way this years gone I could never imagine it,” said Clarkson, before facing his former team. His four goals and 10 points are matched by Dave Bolland, who missed nearly five months with an ankle injury, and Troy Bodie, who has garnered half the ice-time in 13 fewer games. Barring an unforeseeable late season surge, Clarkson would set career-lows in goals, points and shooting percentage (he missed 21 games) – his previous low for points coming in the 2010-11 season when he posted just 18 in 82 games, including only two on the power-play. And if there is one similarity to that year in Jersey to his first in Toronto its the power-play and his opportunity on it. When Clarkson exploded for 45 goals and 70 points in the two seasons which preceded his signing in Toronto he did so in large part because of the power-play. About a third of his production came that way in fact, the Mimico native totaling 14 power-play goals (31 per cent of the total) and 24 power-play points (34 per cent). His ice-time had not surprisingly sky-rocketed from where it had been previously (up to nearly four minutes per game a year ago). This season, that opportunity has tumbled back downward. Buried behind the more skilled likes of Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Bozak, Kadri, Lupul and Raymond, Clarkson has rarely seen the power-play – about 54 minutes total – and thusly has just two points from it. Combine that with a considerable drop in shot attempts and shooting percentage, far less crash and bang and an unending search for a clear-cut role and the season has simply evolved into a nightmare for the former Devil. He played 10 minutes on this night, stuck without a point for the 22nd time in the past 24 games. 4. Falling Behind When Brunner beat Reimer he gave the Devils a 1-0 lead and handed the Leafs their seventh straight deficit to start a game. They fell behind 2-0 for the fifth time in those seven games when Elias snuck by Rielly at the Toronto blue-line before faking out Reimer on the breakaway goal. Sluggish starts continue to be a problem for the Leafs. “Weve been playing from behind a lot lately and just been running out of time I guess you could say,” said Bozak. “Gotta have better starts and try and get a lead early.” The Leafs are now 8-19-4 when they trail after a period and 11-23-4 when their opponent scores first. Bozak and Kessel scored to slice the 3-0 deficit to one, but like their failed comebacks in each of the previous four losses, it was not enough. “Theres no easy way when youre down three on the road to think that youre going to consistently come back in the hockey game,” said Carlyle. 5. JVR Accountability Speaking after the game, James van Riemsdyk made sure to shoulder some of the blame personally for the Leafs failings. Though he had five shots and multiple opportunities on Schneider in a career-high 26 minutes, van Riemsdyk failed to score for the 10th time in the past 11 games. “Its my job to score goals and obviously right now its not good enough,” he said unprovoked on the subject. “Were not winning games, Im not scoring goals, and Ill have to be better.” Stats-Pack 1-6-0 – Leafs record in their past seven games. 7 – Consecutive games in which the Leafs allowed the first goal. 8-19-4 – Leafs record this season when trailing after the first period. 1 – Goal for James van Riemsdyk in the past 11 games. 10:00 – Ice-time for David Clarkson in his first game back to New Jersey. 26:14 – Ice-time for van Riemsdyk, a career-high. 36 – Goals for Phil Kessel, one off matching a career-high. .889 – Save percentage for James Reimer in place of Jonathan Bernier (six appearances). Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-4 Season: 20.8% (T-3rd) PK: 2-2 Season: 78.7% (28th) Quote of the Night “I think everyones just got to relax a little bit and give him some breathing space because we know James is a great goaltender.” - Nazem Kadri, on recent criticism of James Reimer. Up Next The Leafs return home to face one of the leagues top teams with the Blues visiting the ACC on Tuesday. ' ' '
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