The term rag it in hockey refers to a strategy of killing time with the puck. When a player has possession of the puck ragging it means he or she will do his best to keep possession of the puck for as long as possible.
When ragging the puck in hockey you are no longer trying to score. Instead, players will skate around the rink avoiding opponents in order to kill the clock.
When ragging the puck players may try and hold the puck in the corners in the offensive zone. Other strategies include not entering the offensive zone at all. Sometimes players will skate around the neutral zone with the puck until they are put under pressure by an opponent.
When do teams rag the puck?
Now that you know ragging the puck in hockey refers to keeping possession to kill time you may be wondering why this tactic is used in hockey.
Below we will cover some of the main reasons a team may rag it in hockey.
Finishing off a close game
The most common reason teams are going to rag the puck is when holding a lead late in a game. Usually, when playing hockey the main objective is to score a goal.
But when leading by a small margin late in a game simply running out the clock can be the best option. If teams continue to try their hardest to score they may put themselves in a vulnerable position defensively.
Putting too many skaters towards the net is going to leave your team susceptible to a counterattack.
In order to maintain their lead players on the leading team will carry the puck themselves in an attempt to kill time. The other players on the team will stay in defensive positions so that they will be ready once the player ragging the puck loses possession.
This not only takes time off the clock but also ensures the team with the lead stays in a good position to protect their own net.
At the end of the game, this can be an incredibly effective strategy as it limits the opportunities the opposing team will have to score a goal.
Killing a penalty
Another common situation in which a team will rag the puck is on the penalty kill. When a team takes a penalty in hockey they will have to play with one fewer player for a set amount of time.
When the penalty-killing team gets the puck it is in their best interest to kill as much time as possible. This results in their opponents having less possession of the puck while on the powerplay.
Since the powerplay team has more players on the ice ragging the puck will be quite difficult. The player with the puck will usually have to take on several defenders in order to keep possession.
Getting a line change
One more reason a team may rag the puck in hockey is to get a line change in. On some occasions, a team may find themselves pinned into their defensive zone for a long period of time.
This results in tired players that don’t have a chance to go to the bench. When they finally get the puck most of these players are going to head straight to the bench.
In order to buy them time, the player with the puck will usually have to rag it for a few seconds. Shooting the puck right out of the zone is going to result in an icing which would require the players to stay on the ice.
Instead, this player must carry the puck at least to the center red line before he heads for the bench.