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USA Today Sports
1/6
The rink is bigger
IIHF and Olympic rinks are both 200-feet long, but IIHF rinks are 15 feet wider than NHL rinks (100 feet, not 85). This creates a more open style of play that is less physical and more possession-based. The distance between the end boards and the goal line is two feet longer, leading to more action behind the net.
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USA Today Sports
2/6
Goalkeepers have more freedom
In the NHL, goalkeepers can only handle the puck in distinctly marked trapezoid area directly behind the net. In Olympic hockey, they can handle it anywhere behind the end line. Also, a lot of goals are scored in the NHL because attacking players crowd into the crease area and block a goalie's sight lines. IIHF regulations require an immediate stoppage of play when an attacking player deliberately stands in the crease, followed by a faceoff.
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USA Today Sports
3/6
Fighting isn't allowed
The IIHF doesn’t permit fighting, period, and players who are involved in fights are ejected. Although the frequency of fights, which occur far less frequency than the steryotypes sometimes depict, is on the rapid decline in the NHL, the IIHF ban on fighting is still a big departure from NHL rules that normally assess five-minute penalties for fighting.
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USA Today Sports
4/6
Physical penalties have steeper consequences
Boarding and elbowing are major penalties that carry automatic game misconducts under IIHF rules; the NHL treats each as either minor (two minutes), double-minor (four minutes) or major (five minutes), and normally only assesses game misconducts or suspensions if the actions result in injuries to the head or face.
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USA Today Sports
5/6
The gear is a little different
While the NHL is only about two decades removed from the days when players weren't required to wear helmets, IIHF rules require all players born after Dec. 31, 1974 to wear helmets with a visor, which cannot be tinted. The NHL has recently grandfathered in a new rule that mandates that new entrants into the League MUST wear visors; however, guys who already played in the NHL before the rule was in place are free to wear or not wear a visor, as they see fit.
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