17 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.

This will be the final topic in this series, and Camp Shanny is underway today, so there may be further comment when results are out.

Today's Topic: Penalties

There are a couple initiatives being tested that merit discussion relating to penalties, without further adieu...

1) Offending team must exit own zone in delayed penalty situation for whistle

This one sounds a little strange at first, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. Right now a team that commits a penalty while not in possession of the puck does not get a stoppage of play until they gain control of the puck. Now many fans recognize the first problem, what constitutes "control" varies from official to official, some are certainly too quick to the whistle when a defender grazes his stick on a shot puck.

Right now during delayed penalty situations, attacking teams take the opportunity to remove their goaltenders and get a little extra man-advantage time until the offending team gets the puck. This proposed change would give the attacking team more time in these situations and rewards teams that are able to regain possession of the puck after turning it over.

I think this change should be worded such that play would be dead when the puck leaves the attacking zone (to prevent goals from being scored on an open net) otherwise I think this could be a potentially great change.

2) Penalties in their entirety

In other words, a team scored upon while shorthanded does not get relief from the penalty box. I like this rule the way it is as it effectively puts a maximum of one goal for any minor penalty called. I assume the argument for this is to increase scoring by effectively adding power play time to each penalty that terminates early. The reason the NHL went away from this is because it had a chilling effect on officials calling penalties in the first place. Referee's were afraid to make calls that might lead to more goals against the penalized team. I think this is a legit concern that probably won't be borne out at the RDO camp.

Thanks for reading this series, I hope you enjoyed it. As I stated above I may post more once some opinions come out of the actual tests, which started today.

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