Cody Eakin admits it. He bends the rules on faceoffs all the time.
“It’s important to cheat enough that you can get that jump on somebody,” the Golden Knights center said, “but not enough where you get caught.”
But as the NHL cracks down on faceoff violations this season, Eakin thinks the league has been too strict in its enforcement of the rules.
“I think they’re still trying to get the right balance between penalties, kicking guys out and dropping the puck,” Eakin said Wednesday after practice at City National Arena. “I think that will come with a few more games, but it seems a little bit much right now.”
In the Knights’ victory over Boston on Sunday, David Perron was assessed a minor penalty for a faceoff violation after Eakin had been booted from the circle by the linesman moments earlier. The Bruins did not score on the resulting power play.
Buffalo’s Jason Pominville was given a similar penalty in the second period Tuesday. Sabres coach Phil Housley was irate on the bench and growled at the linesman to “Drop the puck!”
“I don’t understand it sometimes, but again, the linesmen do their job the best they can,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “I don’t think they’re trying to penalize teams, but they’re trying to set the tone.”
The league sent out a memo last month notifying teams there would be stricter enforcement of faceoff procedures, with added emphasis on the markings inside the faceoff circle. Two straight violations result in a minor penalty, according to the NHL rulebook.
Players taking the draw are not allowed to cross the designated lines with their feet, which has been the biggest adjustment for Eakin and other centers around the league.
“I think sometimes it slows down the game,” said Eakin, the Knights’ primary faceoff taker. “But it’s just a matter of time before we kind of all meet in the middle and agree that we’ll figure out the timing that both sides are happy with.”
Alex Tuch’s father, Carl, was listening on the radio in Baldwinsville, New York, when his son scored his first NHL goal Sunday against Boston.
Carl Tuch was at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday to see Alex score against Buffalo, and the two shared a long embrace after the game. Alex later presented his father with the puck from his first career goal.
“He’s my best friend, so it was good to see him,” Alex Tuch said. “I was really happy that he could come out and even happier that I could score a goal for him in person.”
Gallant had no update on the health of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who is on injured reserve with a concussion.
Gallant said Fleury is re-evaluated every day, but he avoids interacting with injured players as much as possible so they don’t feel pressure to return early.
“When they’re hurt, they’re hurt. They see our doctors, they see our trainers,” Gallant said. “I don’t want to talk to them because sometimes coaches, you know, ‘We need you back here.’ So I stay away.”
The Knights are the second franchise in the NHL’s 100-year history to start their inaugural season 5-1, joining the Montreal Canadiens in 1917-18.
Golden Knights schedule
Home games at T-Mobile Arena:
— Saturday, 7:30 p.m.: St. Louis Blues
— Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Chicago Blackhawks
— Oct. 27, 3 p.m.: Colorado Avalanche