Welcome to the inaugural Center Line Chatter! This weekly piece releasing on Wednesdays will serve as a bridge between the previous week’s Goal Line Grumblings and the current week’s weekly recap. In this edition, we discuss the Central Division playoff race, Jack Eichel, and the GM meetings in Florida. So, without further ado, let’s do this!
General Managers Strike Down Offside Amendment
The GMs of all NHL teams, including the new Vegas Golden Knights, have resumed conducting their ongoing annual meetings in Florida.
The meetings are often used to examine existing rules and possibly introduce new rules across the National Hockey League. This year, the big rule under the microscope was the rule of offside.
Under the current rules, a player must have a part of his body (usually it’s the trailing skate blade) on the blue line if they’re ahead of the puck when entering the offensive zone. If they don’t, they must “tag up” before the puck enters, or play is whistled dead and the face-off is in the neutral zone.
With the advent of video review for offside and goalie interference calls, this rule has come under scrutiny, particularly because goals have been overturned because a player has had his skate in the air over the blue line rather than on the ice.
Proponents of a rule change sought to have the rule tweaked so that the blue line was made a plane, much like the NFL’s goal line. This would allow a player to have his skate in the air and be onside as long as it was in the air over the blue line.
The NHL GMs, however, struck the change down and kept the status quo, that no lines on the ice in NHL rinks are considered planes, they’re all absolute (but I’m here to talk puck, not give you a geometry lesson.)
Buffalo’s Jack Eichel Scores 100th NHL Point
Ever since he entered the league two seasons ago, Jack Eichel has been something special. Even though he came in a highly touted draft class (one that featured Connor McDavid) he’s been able to produce despite injuries and the fact he plays for a team that looks like they’re perpetually rebuilding.
Eichel scored his 100th NHL point Tuesday with a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. He entered the game with 98 points and got an assist on an earlier goal by Evander Kane to push the total to 99. Then, he fired a puck past Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason for his 41st goal and 100th point.
Central Division Playoff Race Heats Up
As you may have seen, I’ve been taking a very keen interest in the Central Division. That isn’t because I grew up in the shadow of Chicago. Mainly, it’s because I’m right smack in the middle of Central Division turf.
The Central division crown is a two-horse race at this point. However, St. Louis and Nashville are vying for 3rd place, with St. Louis is trying to surge and replace Nashville for the third place spot and send Nashville into a wild card spot.
On Tuesday, a resurgent St. Louis team managed to pick up a win and two points to give their lead on the final wild card spot a bit of space. Meanwhile, 3rd place Nashville was able to pick up a point to keep St. Louis at bay and solidify their 3rd place position.
Minnesota lost to St. Louis but still remains one point atop the Central, but a big Sunday matchup with their division rival Chicago looms large on the horizon.
Speaking of Chicago, they’ve got back to back games with Anaheim at home and Detroit on the road. But, they are coming off a much needed (for Corey Crawford, at least) four days’ rest. Then, they’ve got arguably the biggest clash remaining in the season on Sunday when Minnesota comes to town with the division race hotly contested.
Buckle up, this is going to get really good, really fast.