The offside rule is a hard rule to understand when first watching the game of hockey. Basically, this rule stipulates that the puck has to enter the offensive zone (from the blue line to the net) before any player of the attacking team can enter that zone.
If a player of the attacking team enters the offensive zone before the puck, all attacking players must exit and be outside the offensive zone before they can re-enter it. An infraction will only be called if an attacking player touches the puck while in the offensive zone. A faceoff will then take place outside the zone, on the faceoff dots near the blue line.
This rule helps the defensive team greatly as all they need to do is shoot the puck out of their zone to force all the players from the attacking team to exit the zone in order to avoid a faceoff.
There are a few things to keep in mind with this rule that don’t often happen.
- If the defensive team puts the puck into their own zone while someone from the offensive team is there, the offensive player is not ruled to be offside
- If an offensive player crosses the blue line before the puck but is in control of the puck (ie. skating backwards) he is not offside
- If an offensive player is in the zone before the puck, he may stretch out his skate to try and be at least partially outside the offensive zone before the puck enters ie. the player does not have to be completely “onside” only a small part must be.