With the exception of offside plays and goal crease violations, skaters have free reign over the ice.  They can go wherever they’d like, just about whenever they’d like.

Not so with goaltenders.  Here’s three of the places they’re not allowed to play.

Crossing the Red Line

Goaltenders are not allowed to play the puck past center ice.  Colorado’s Patrick Roy famously tested this rule against the New York Rangers on November 16, 1997.  With the Avs trailing 4-1 late in the game, Roy decided to take matters into his own hands and carry the puck up ice. After a spin-o-rama deke across center ice.  Referee Paul Devorski blew the whistle to stop play.  Roy looked on, stunned, as he was given a minor for playing the puck over the red line.

From the rulebook:

27.7 Participating in the Play Over the Center Red Line – If a goalkeeper participates in the play in any manner (intentionally plays the puck or checks an opponent) when he is beyond the center red line, a minor penalty shall be imposed upon him.

The Dreaded Trapezoid

You can thank Martin Brodeur for the restricted area behind the nets.  His puckhandling skills, along with those of a select handful of other goaltenders, were deemed to be reducing scoring – especially for the ‘clutch-and-grab’, neutral-zone-trap-era New Jersey Devils.  As a result, the NHL implemented the restricted zone behind the net beginning with the 2005-06 season.

Brodeur was not pleased.

“You can’t be happy, taking away something I’ve worked on all my life to do and help my teammates and help my defense,” Brodeur told the New York Times. “It’s just part of me, playing the puck. So, definitely, you can’t be happy.”

Boston’s Tuukka Rask was also frustrated by the trapezoid, taking a penalty for playing the puck and another for arguing the call.

The official ‘trapezoid’ rule:

27.8 Restricted Area – A goalkeeper shall not play the puck outside of the designated area behind the net. This area shall be defined by lines that begin six feet (6’) from either goal post and extend diagonally to points twenty-eight feet (28’) apart at the end boards. Should the goalkeeper play the puck outside of the designated area behind the goal line, a minor penalty for delay of game shall be imposed. The determining factor shall be the position of the puck. The minor penalty will not be assessed when a goalkeeper plays the puck while maintaining skate contact with his goal crease.

The game has changed quite a bit since then. With the speed of today’s NHL, along with the potential for disaster when a goaltender leaves the crease, perhaps removing the trapezoid now would lead to an increase in scoring.


Leaving The Crease During An Altercation

Goaltenders can leave their crease to make a save or play the puck – as long as it’s not in the trapezoid or beyond center ice.  If they leave the blue paint to join a scrum, they’ll be serving time.

Show ’em how it’s done, Ray.

Flyers goaltender Ray Emery was given – among other penalties – two minutes for leaving the crease by referees Dennis Larue and Francois St. Laurent.  According to the rulebook, he would have also been slapped with a whopping $200 fine.

27.6 Leaving Goal Crease – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a goalkeeper who leaves the immediate vicinity of his crease during an altercation. In addition, he shall be subject to a fine of two hundred dollars ($200) and this incident shall be reported to the Commissioner for such further disciplinary action as may be required. However, should the altercation occur in or near the goalkeeper’s crease, the Referee should direct the goalkeeper to a neutral location and not
assess a penalty for leaving the immediate vicinity of the goal crease.

Equally, if the goalkeeper is legitimately outside the immediate vicinity of the goal crease for the purpose of proceeding to the players’ bench to be substituted for an extra attacker, and he subsequently becomes involved in an altercation, the minor penalty for leaving the crease would not be assessed.


Watch your feet, goalie. It’s not just about where you make the save when it comes to positioning.