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Clearing the Zone

What is Clearing the Zone?

When all the players of a team who are in the attacking zone must leave that zone after an opposing player clears the puck beyond the nearest blue line, so that those players are not offside when the puck re-enters the attacking zone. Should one or more players of the attacking team fail to clear the zone before the puck re-enters the attacking zone, play will be stopped for offside and the next face-off will take place in the neutral zone.

Sporting Charts explains Clearing the Zone

When the defending team is in possession of the puck inside their own zone and one or more of the opposing players have not yet cleared the zone, the linesman on that side of the ice will put up his hand to signal a delayed offside until all the opposing players cross the blue line. Should one of them make contact with the puck while attempting to clear the zone, the play is stopped and the next face-off will take place in the neutral zone. 

Forwards (especially the wingers) will often stay near the blue line after clearing the zone to keep themselves in a good attacking position if their team is in possession of the puck. To counter this, opposing forwards will also stand near the blue line to prevent the attacking team from quickly re-entering the attacking zone.

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