Olympic hockey is not NHL hockey

There are a lot of differences between Olympic hockey and hockey that we are used to when watching the NHL games.

The Olympic hockey is very exciting, the games are fast and intense, players are on the ice for less than a minute often, before being changed so they can rest. 

They don’t just coast around surprised when the other team scores like some teams… not to name any leafs or anything.. 

There are a lot of differences between the two. Some rules or changes are a bit more subtle and perhaps do not have as much as an impact on the game. Other differences are more pronounced and do.

A lot of NHL players are on the teams, close to 150, so they are used to playing on the NHL ice.  Well the mens teams. But the ladies teams play on NHL ice for some of the countries as well, two for sure. lol.  So the ladies coast out on to the Olympic ice and go woo hoo look at all the room. 😉

The obvious difference is the size of the ice rink.

The NHL ice is about 200 feet by 85 feet. Olympic ice is about 210 by 98. On Olympic ice there is an extra two feet behind the net.

So how does this somewhat tiny change impact the game? It doesn’t sound like a big change, it really does change the way the players used to smaller ice play though. The goal is farther away from the corners, there is more room behind the net for two players, resulting in the puck being taken away from you when you are used to blocking attempts more easily. There is more skating on the Olympic ice.


The NHL ice being somewhat smaller seems to invoke more of a physical game. Which often seems to lead to fighting. Fights in the NHL create penalties for the players of five minutes. In the Olympics the fighters are evicted from the game. Some teams in the Olympics have resorted to taunting with, perhaps lesser players, with players of a more serious threat, hoping to get them involved in a fight to remove them from the game. Is this now a psychological game? Or, knowing their skills are not sufficient enough to win the game without resorting to “trimming” the other team. Pushing and shoving to antagonize when play has stopped with the hope of that player becoming annoyed and starting a fight…. hmmm is this hockey still?

Zones are sized differently also, the neutral zone in the middle is larger on the Olympic ice by 8 feet, the offensive zone is then smaller, so this also will change the way play goes.

Little things like the curve in your stick vary, Olympic rules do not allow for the larger curves that some NHL players like, so puck handling for them will be harder as they are used to a blade with more of a curve. 

We hear the word icing a lot. This is when the ref’s feel the players need a break, knowing that the players moms baked cup cakes … they call out icing so all the players rush to their benches so they can have a snack and break…..


Their is a line by the goals, even the with the net opening. If a player shoots the puck across that goal line, on the opposing team from center ice, in the Olympics, icing is called and a face off is called.

no cupcakes… awwww

In the Olympics an extra two players are allowed, not on the ice but in total. So there are more players to cycle through play as they are not on the ice very long.

The goalies crease is the blue area by the net opening, in the NHL players from the other team can enter the crease and stand there, but they mustn’t touch the goalie , not in the Olympics. Play stops when an opposing player enters the crease. Today the Canadian team put the puck in the Swiss goal.. they had to put the goalie in the goal too…. eeeps it didn’t count though. She fit in really nicely though.  She was amazing, stopping so many shots. Frustrating when you are cheering on your countries team, but it is nice to recognize a great player too. Each time she stopped a goal her eyes twinkled and you could see, through her face mask, she was smiling.  Bet she was surprised when the Canadian team put her in the net… lol.

There are other rule difference all can impact the game. When you play for years these rules are ingrained in you, they become second nature, it is difficult to switch to the Olympic rules.

I think they are doing really great at this. Except for twisting rules a bit to have players removed.  Hence my term for a “lesser” player.


With Olympic hockey too, I have noticed that  having the bowl of popcorn on your lap is not the best of ideas when your team scores…. just saying…..

OH and the Canadian ladies team is very nice, when we bash up a ref we get our doctor to fix them all up…  eeeps sorry for crushing you.



About sensuousamberville

I am a Practitioner, teacher and student. I think we should always be students, we should keep our minds open, to continue to learn. :-) Now a mother of two little ones.

14 responses »

  1. Eee, this all went waaaay over my head. Hockey here is a summer sport played on grass. I don’t think there are any Aussies in the winter hockey events.

  2. Thank you for the explanations Amber. 🙂 Now, one other question: how come they play with 5 players most of the time and then in the overtime period they just play with 4? Is that normal? Oh, one other little point. While the Canadian Women’s team is very, very good, well, there is a team from the USA that is not too bad either. It should be quite a good match I think. Whispers: go USA! *Grins and runs*

    • In pre medal games overtime games have 4 on 4, but to confuse you, during the medal games it will probably be 5 on 5 and the period will be for 10 minutes rather than the 5 minutes for the pre medal games. In the gold medal game the periods I think would be 20 minutes in overtime.

      USA has a team? hmmm didn’t Canada already beat them?

      • *Grumbles* Well, yes that is true, but it was a very close game. And you know darn well the USA has quite a good ladies team! As Aesop said: don’t count your chickens before they hatch! *Winks*

  3. I have been wondering why people said it was different. Thanks for the explanation…and I did not see but did Canada win in women’s hockey? I know it is a big game between the US and Canada, just sooo many papers trying to get through yet before I allow TV for myself.


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