15 August 2011

Goals and Goaltenders - part of a series on the NHL's RDO tests

A great thing Brendan Shanahan has brought to the NHL is the Research, Development, and Organization camp, where they have players experiment with rule changes and get a real idea of how these things might work in practice.

Today's topic: Goals and Goaltenders

This really should've been the first topic. What is more important in hockey than scoring goals or good goaltending? I'm a fan of both. The NHL is planning a number of related experiments.

*No Trapezoid.

Not sure why they need to test this at RDO camp. The NHL has seven decades without any restriction on the goaltender. That said I am a minority voice in favor of the trapezoid. I really think that created more races into the corners and make dump and chase hockey more exciting to watch. The flip side is that free roaming goaltenders behind the net could be a deterrent to playing dump-and-chase in the first place. I like the trapezoid, but I would like hockey about the same without it as well.

*Rule 63.2 - Delaying the Game

From the NHL rulebook

"A minor penalty shall be imposed on any player, including the goalkeeper, who holds, freezes or plays the puck with his stick, skates or body in such a manner as to deliberately cause a stoppage of play. With regard to a goalkeeper, this rule applies outside of his goal crease area."

Basically the way the rule is written (but not how it's called) is that goaltenders cannot cover pucks outside of their crease. They are able to leave the crease to defend shots, and I believe they would be able to freeze a puck following a shot when outside the crease, but they would not be able to cover loose pucks if outside of their crease.

I think this will keep more pucks in play and would probably be a positive change. I'll be curious to find out how it actually tests.

*Verification line

The idea is there would be an additional line behind the goal line that would confirm a goal if the puck touches it. Remember the entire puck must be completely across the goal line to be considered a goal. The verification line would presumably be behind the goal line one diamater of the puck. The thinking is this will help with replay verification. The confusing thing about this is that it would be possible for goals to be scored without breaking the plane of the verification line (puck on end for instance). I think the current standard on a replay review is to look for any white space between the puck and the goal line, and that suits the game just fine. I don't think an additional line will help the review process more than the current standard, and probably would just serve to bring confusion.

*Shallow Back Nets

This is a great thing to test in the RDO camp. The idea is a shallower goal cage will create more space behind the goal for players to maneuver. The first positive is that this would make more players wrap-around threats. A positive for the defense would be it becomes easier to move the puck when breaking out. The only potential downside is that it might become more difficult to spot whether pucks have gone in the net or not. Even with the current cage, sometimes pucks bounce out too quickly. If a shallower net would cause more replay reviews I'm probaly not in favor, if it doesn't I think this would be a wonderful change. I will be curious how this tests as well.

Next topic: Penalties

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