Coaches like Claude Julien will have to pick their spots before challenging offside calls.Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The NHL has passed several rule changes that are designed to help the game move along at a faster pace and give the players more protection.

The most prominent rule change involves the use of a coach’s challenge on an offside play. If a coach challenges a goal that is not deemed offside, the challenging team will be assessed a two-minute penalty.

In the past, coaches would regularly hold onto their challenge until the third period of a close game. If a late goal went against a team, a coach could challenge with nothing to lose. Now, a coach will not only see his team go down by a goal, but it will have to kill off an immediate penalty if the challenge is not successful.

The upshot may be that coaches will not save their challenge and will use it earlier in the game. In addition to trying to overturn the goal, the challenge slows momentum down and keeps the scoring team from surging. That may no longer be an issue.

The NHL has also given referees more authority to call slashing penalties when opponents chop at the upper shaft of the stick or near the hands.

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