10-4, Over And Out

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

You can't hook 'em, hold 'em or cross-check 'em in hockey these day so defencemen are resorting to other tactics to stop pucks from entering the net.

Namely, diving.

Not the kind of Academy Award-winning, Swan Lake-style diving that fools the referees, picks up a cheap power play and draws cries of "Oscar" and "Perfect 10" from furious fans. Defencemen are too noble. That kind of fakery is for the forwards.

We're talking diving as in getting down and dirty to block a steamy slapshot, impede a hard-charging puck-carrier or break up a more frequent odd-man rush. Hitting the deck is one of the defenceman's new tricks of the trade and it's a lot more noticeable now in pro and junior hockey.

The jury's deliberating on how effective it is -- Londoner Mike Van Ryn saw the darker side of defensive diving and shot-blocking twice in the last week.

In the third period on Monday, the Florida Panthers defenceman fell to try to break up a Toronto Maple Leafs scoring chance but Alex Ponikarovsky's pass attempt bounced off Van Ryn's skate and zipped through goalie Jamie McLennan's legs for the game-winner.

"It looked like (Eric) Lindros was going to the net, so I went down to discourage the pass," Van Ryn told the Miami Herald. "I felt something hit me in the heel. . . . It's just another unlucky break, but we have to keep working and we'll get some of these. There's not much you can do when the puck is going toward the net and you're trying to defend it."

In last week's overtime loss to Philadelphia, a shot hit Van Ryn and bounced into the slot, where it was knocked in.

But London Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu, who handles the team's blue-line, says falling to the ice is one of the few acceptable options left for defencemen.

"Under the new rules, all you can really do is lift a stick or get in front of them," Beaulieu said, "You can't cross-check. You can't hook. The forwards can stand in front of the net all day so we're trying to teach the guys to get out in front of them and block a shot. We're doing new drills that never really existed before but the game's changed and it's not changing back.

"It's not fun, but in practice it's usually me shooting and I'm not trying to hurt them," Beaulieu said. "When I run hockey camps, we use tennis balls to teach technique but these guys (the Knights) already know that so we use pucks."

Welcome back Carter

Despite receiving few shifts, Londoner Jeff Carter scored his first two NHL goals this week in Philly wins over Florida and Ottawa. The former Soo Greyhound star hasn't played 10 minutes in a game since Oct. 5 against the New York Rangers. Meanwhile, fellow Flyer rookie Mike Richards draws over 16 minutes an outing. In Anaheim, Corey Perry was getting 12 minutes a game before being put on the injured list with a concussion this week after being smucked by Dallas Drake of St. Louis.

"It was an intentional shot to the head," Ducks GM Brian Burke said. Drake wasn't penalized.

Mighty Mac

Staying in the Duck Pond, Strathroy's Andy McDonald is helping linemate Teemu Selanne forget about playing with Paul Kariya, now a nifty part of Nashville's success.

McDonald, whose previous career high was 10 goals, has six in six games alongside the Finnish Flash.

"I think Andy has all the tools. He just needs the confidence to realize how good he is, because I don't think he knows yet how good he can be," Selanne said. "With his speed and talent, he's going to take advantage of these new rules."


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