Offside In Ice Hockey

How Does Offside Work In Ice Hockey?

Whenever you try to understand the granular details of Ice Hockey, it gets a bit messy, doesn’t it? There are concepts, rules, traditions, and practices that all the sports in the world have in their own respective ways. Same as the offside in ice hockey. Which also exists in Ice Hockey. 

Its implementation in NHL and other Ice Hockey platforms is what we will be looking at along with illustrations and explanations. Off we go!

Offside; A Global Sporting Concept: 

Offside is a concept that exists in many major global sports of great stature. Whether it’s American Football, Soccer, or Hockey, it’s there. The idea behind is to ensure fair gameplay. Where both sides get equal and fair opportunities to fight for the win. 

Offsides in ice hockey are a controversial topic. Some people argue that offsides should not exist at all, while others think that they should be abolished altogether.

In this article, we will explore the basics of offsides and try to answer some questions about their implementation in the game.

Understanding Offside In Ice Hockey: 

First and foremost, what is an offside? Offside is a rule in ice hockey that allows a player from the defending team to play beyond the blue line on the attacking side of the rink before the puck has been touched by either player from his team. 

Ice hockey is a sport that comes with a lot of strategies. Players must be able to read the ice, anticipate what their opponents will do, and make the correct play.

One part of playing this sport effectively is knowing how offsides work.

The Rules: 

The offside rule in ice hockey is a rule that states that a player of the attacking team cannot enter the offensive zone before the puck. There are many intricacies to the offside rule, such as whether or not a player is considered “offside” if they are level with the puck when it is played by a teammate.

But the basic idea is to prevent players from entering the offensive zone too early and giving their team an unfair advantage.

The rule can be confusing for newcomers to the sport, but it is an important part of maintaining fair play. 

The bottom line of judging the offside is to look at the players’ skates. If the player in question has both skates beyond the blue line into the offensive zone, before the puck. Then the offside is called. Simple as that. 

There was a revision to the offside rule in 2021. The change came after 91 years. Now, if the player’s skate is in contact with the blue line, and the puck crosses it before the player, the player will be deemed onside.

Even if the player’s skates are in the air, but part of it falls into the neutral zone or blue line, that play will be still considered onside. 

Understanding The Ice Rink: 

We have talked theoretically about the Offside rule until now. It will be difficult to actually understand it and absorb it if we don’t give a quick overview of the Ice rink. The surface where Ice Hockey is officially played on the competitive level and in NHL. 

From the offside point of view, there are 2 aspects of the ice rink which need to be shed light on. The zones and the Blue line. One can’t go without the other. Here’s what they are: 


Ice hockey is a sport that can be played on a variety of surfaces, including ice rinks, frozen ponds, and indoor arenas. There are three zones in an ice rink that players must stay in while playing the game-the defensive zone, neutral zone, and offensive zone.

The defensive zone is located in the area closest to the team’s goal, while the offensive zone is in the area furthest from the goal. The neutral zone is located in the middle of the rink.

There are two blue lines on the rink, the zone between them is the neutral zone. Let’s talk more about the blue line. 

The Blue Line: 

Ice hockey is played on an ice rink and we have discussed how the rink is divided into zones. And there are specific markings on the ice that dictate how the game should be played.

One such marking is the blue lines. The blue lines are two lines that run parallel to each other across the width of the rink. They are important because they define what is known as the “offensive zone”.

The offensive zone is the area in front of the net where teams can score goals. 

What Does An Offside In Ice Hockey Look Like? 

For better understanding, we are going to take a look at how offsides look on paper. In the image below, you can see two blue lines on the boundary of the neutral zone.

That’s the decisive indicator of the offside in Ice hockey. Now, the player indicator which is beyond the blue line in the offensive zone illustrates the offside situation if we assume the puck hasn’t crossed the line yet.

Still, got questions? We’re always delighted to answer!
Let’s move forward. 

The Delayed Offside In Ice Hockey: 

We can call it an exception to the offside rule. The linesman lets the game continue without stopping the gameplay.

It happens when the player has crossed the offensive blue line and the puck is played into the offensive zone later.

But the defenders clear it. The offside player is given the chance to return to the neutral zone. And thus, due to this delay or chance, it’s called the delayed offside in Ice Hockey.

The Face-Off:

Once the offside is called. The player doesn’t have to serve any kind of PIM. As the offsides only result in the face-offs. Which is starting the game back from the neutral zone.

Once the Linesman indicates the offside, the play is redirected towards face-off as players leave the offensive zone quickly and get to their own side of the rink.

If you have more questions about Face-Off, we have a detailed article written on it. Read it here!

Closing Sentences:

Who thought Offsides would be so exciting to talk about? It’s all here about offside in ice hockey. While walking you through the rules and practical application of the rule along with the implementation in different subjective scenarios, it was a journey full of education for ourselves too!

Do you want to read more? Yes, we understand! And that’s taken care of. Visit our Ice Hockey section here for much more fun like this!

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