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“Mirroring” is the new obstruction

Jun 2, 2012, 4:40 PM EDT

Wes McCauley Getty Images

By now you know all about how scoring is down and many fear the dark days of the dead puck era have returned. One of the issues is the lack of penalties called and the very apparent creep of obstruction back in the game.

The New York Times explains what’s got everyone in a bind is called “mirroring” and league officials know all about it.

Called mirroring, it occurs when a defenseman skates in the same route taken by a forechecker trying to get to a puck that has been dumped into the offensive zone. The defenseman skates slightly in front of him, mirroring his path at a slower speed and preventing him from proceeding at full speed.

The managers might see it as slippage in the standard, but referees might view it as not explicitly violating the rules.

“It’s not holding or interference, it’s just getting in the guy’s way,” said Gary Meagher, the league’s vice president of communications, who is closely involved in the managers’ meetings.

You’ll see it in every game on dumps to the corner: The forechecker getting essentially faceguarded as he skates towards the puck. According to how the rule book is written regarding interference, mirroring seems to be allowed (Rule 56.1 makes it sound OK).

Call it mirroring all you want, but obstruction is obstruction no matter what name you give it. If the league is worried about the game being gummed up, making a move to penalize mirroring would take care of things until a new way to cheat the rules is discovered.

  1. loinstache - Jun 2, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    I think ‘setting a pick’ like this is almost inevitable with the way the game is played, but the problems occur because it’s a quick jump to directly holding or further impeding the offensive player (see Doughty’s infamous recent penalty). I can understand why a ref wouldn’t want to blow the game down for this ‘mirroring,’ but it’s often accompanied with further obstruction that should be punished and yet isn’t.

  2. drewsylvania - Jun 2, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    So we’re going to penalize for “playing defense” now. Got it.

  3. mikebel11 - Jun 2, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Quit whining about nothing. The game is great and entertaining despite one or two boring series between two defensive teams. Watch the damn games and stop worrying about how many penalties are called you bunch of babies. NFL games are generally no higher scoring than hockey games, the only difference is they get 7 points every time they score which fools idiots into thinking more is happening and no ones complaining about low scoring in football. Also you can’t complain about head-shots and obstruction, the rise in head-shots is directly attributed to the decline of obstruction. Let the players play the game and the spectators spectate. There doesn’t have to be wieners complaining about everything that happens.

  4. ballistictrajectory - Jun 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Why not assess 2 minutes for participating in a faceoff? That can be follow up with match penalties for crossing the blue line.

  5. claysbar - Jun 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    If the NHL, media and critics want to change the clutching, grabbing, blocking shots, playing defense, goalies stopping shots etc. etc. If anyone has watched an international game, with the larger ice surface, it really is the way to go. It tends to draw a good bit of the game away from the boards, reducing boarding/roughing/obstruction/picks etc. etc. It really isn’t all that available on a regular basis to most US viewers but the more you watch it, it is a faster paced, end to end game where hitting is respected, but not relied upon to dictate a game. It would mean removing the first 3-4 rows of seats, driving up the cost of the rest, ie: nosebleeds would now be $45 instead of $25, but the product is better. Sorry for the rant

  6. hockeyfan28 - Jun 2, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Other then the Pittsburgh Philly war all the other series have been tight checking low scoring stuff (ironically this was also the highest rated series in 10 years) if you wanna stop from seeing teams 2-1 their way to the finals once and for all just make the net bigger. An additional 7 or 8 inches around will take care of all the obstruction and interference refs seem to stop calling as the rounds progress. I’m sure NBC wouldn’t mind.

  7. tarotsujimoto74 - Jun 2, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    I don’t really see anything wrong with this. The defenseman is just taking his space and forcing the forward to try and get around wide. Unless the defenseman is actively physically engaging the forward, it shouldn’t be called.

  8. ynothockey - Jun 2, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Defenseman not allowed space on ice, check. Goalie still allowed to get in front of the puck??

  9. polegojim - Jun 2, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Now, things are getting stupid.

    I believe what’s being described is actually GOOD DEFENSE.

  10. 50milessouthofdetroit - Jun 2, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    if the officials would just call the game according to the rule book, there would not have to be new rules discussions every offseason. if it’s a penalty in the first 10 minutes, it’s a penalty in the last 10 minutes. the players will adjust. they always do. oh, and one more thing, get the linesmen to just drop the damn puck…

  11. Stiller43 - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Hate the change. I’ll be pissed when my team gets called for not even touching a guy because youre supposed to let someone just go right around you.

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