NHL

Fraser: Cheating on both sides of the faceoff circle

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Kerry Fraser
5/29/2014 4:16:13 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Hey Kerry,

Can you clarify something for me please? On every draw taken by Jonathan Toews, I've noticed that as soon as the first stick touches the ice (his own on the road and the opponent's at home) he simultaneously turns his body and moves his left foot forward, positioning it in front of his opponent's right foot immediately before the puck is dropped.

This allows him to basically block out the opposing player before the puck is even dropped. How is this not considered to be encroaching (or jumping early) on the faceoff?

To me, he's basically being allowed an advantage by getting a head start so to speak on the draw.

Keep it up Mr. Fraser!

Kyle Sherman
Westlake Village, CA

Kyle:

I did not take your claim lightly that Jonathan Toews cheats on every faceoff, so I examined consecutive faceoffs in an objective manner that the Hawks captain was involved in during the first period of Wednesday night's game.

You might be surprised to learn (which I wasn't at all) that the centres from both teams were cheating every chance they could get and as much as the linesmen allowed!

There was considerable stick movement regardless of which player placed his stick on the ice first (especially from Jarret Stoll who utilizes a quick stick tap up and down to be in motion when the linesman releases the puck).

So put your stick down and your skates squared up on each side of the lines Kyle because this is what transpired:

1) Opening faceoff: Toews set up with open stance to the right before the referee Marc Joannette moved into position to drop the puck. Toews won the opening faceoff cleanly over Anze Kopitar and the Hawks' puck possession and attack led to Drew Doughty being called for tripping Toews.  

2) As a result of the Kings penalty, Toews took the draw to the right side of Jonathan Quick. From this location, the Hawks captain wanted to draw the puck back to his left. Both Toews and Stoll line up with their feet square on each side of the markings. Toews puts his stick on the ice first but then picks it up as Stoll comes down with an effort to time the drop. The linesman puts the puck in and both centres tie up but Toews wins the puck back from the scrum. This puck possession results in a Hawk power play goal by Brent Seabrook.

3) Toews set up square for a Hawks attacking zone left side draw back. Stoll demonstrates a dramatic set to the right with his skates. Jonathan Toews wins the draw cleanly back for another Hawks attacking zone puck possession.

4) Toews lost a neutral zone faceoff as he set up square while Anze Kopitar was twisted to the right. Kopitar won the draw to the sidewall and created a Kings entry into the Hawks zone (First commercial timeout then resulted).

5) Centre ice faceoff following Jarret Stoll goal which saw both Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar dramatically twisted as they lined up. Both players moved to gain the benefit of a timed drop. Toews was faster and more dramatic but Kopitar won the draw back and Kings controlled.

6) With 7:10 remaining in the period and a Hawks end zone left side faceoff, Jarret Stoll places his stick on the ice first and does a stick tap up and down to gain momentum as Toews comes down and then up with his stick. Both players attempted to gain the benefit of this timed drop but Stoll was clearly twisted to his right with movement and won the draw back as the Kings controlled the puck in their attacking zone. The linesman fell to the ice and was likely fined a "six-pack." Play went end to end until Marian Gaborik scored on a terrific pass from Anze Kopitar.

I think you get the picture by now Kyle.  Jonathan Toews is not the only centre that's rotating his left skate in advance of the puck drop; there is cheating on both sides of the faceoff circle! 

What you have highlighted Kyle is the need for the linesmen to be more diligent in squaring the centres as they get set to drop the puck and not allow a player to swing or move his stick to gain the benefit of a "timed drop". Puck possession off an end zone can be a huge factor in the outcome of a game.

Thank you for pointing this out!  

Kopitar and Toews (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)
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