The trapezoid strikes again.

The NHL implemented the ‘trapezoid rule’ in an attempt to increase scoring.  Enacted after the 2004-05 lockout, the rule prevented goaltenders from playing the puck, particularly on dump-ins.  It’s been a source of frustration for many goalies, both in limiting what they can do on the ice and for penalizing them on the occasional error.  It also affects a goalie’s decision-making when the puck is in that restricted area.

Arizona’s Mike Smith headed out to play the puck with his team on the power play.  The pack came off boards a bit slower than expected, leaving Smith to wait for it. By the time the puck reached the line, so had Pittsburgh forechecker Josh Archibald, who took advantage of the goaltender’s rulebook-mandated hesitation to post a shorthanded goal.



From the rulebook:

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 puck was on the line – not behind it – so there’s no penalty on Smith.

Once again, though, the trapezoid is wreaking havoc in the NHL.