Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wanted: Fresh Ideas for Increasing Scoring

Night after night on Sportscentre, hockey fans across North America are seeing 5-4, 4-3, or 4-2 games. Even with goal scoring on the rise (5 players have legitimate shots at 100 points this season) we all know it's only a matter of time before someone chimes up about how we can increase scoring in the NHL. I really don't think it's needed based on the statistics, but ideas are still being thrown around. Shrinking goalies, expanding nets, and allowing more curved sticks have all been suggested as ways we can go about doing that. None of these ideas are the "perfect" idea. There are clear flaws in each of them.

Shrinking goalies may work to an extent, but I fail to see how it will have a drastic effect on goal scoring. Some of the flaps on the pads, extra material on the pants, and extra pieces on the gloves can be eliminated, but goalies will cope. Suggesting a significant drop in equipment size couldn't be more wrong. People who suggest that fail to realize that the players who are taking shots are bigger and stronger than ever. Combine that with the composite sticks, and it's a deadly combination. If a puck catches you in an awkward spot, you could break a rib easily (See: Luongo earlier this year) I even asked Cedrick Desjardins of the Hamilton Bulldogs about it in an earlier interview, and he feels the same way. "You can try to change the equipment on the goalie instead, but make sure he is still safe." It's a valid point because goaltenders are not just "playing the system" like some fans believe, they honestly do not want to get injured. Wouldn't you want the most amount of protection possible if you were throwing your body in front of 100 MPH slap shots?

Now, expanding nets is a whole other situation. We've all seen the pictures of the net with the enlarged corners, you know, the ones that make every hockey purist cringe. They tried these out in some rookie camps a few years ago, but the amount of goal scoring didn't seem to change. In fact, it went down, and I quote Cedrick again "I tried it at rookie camp with Montreal, in Toronto, and they had the bigger nets but the scores were still, like 3-1, 2-1, so it wasn't a big difference. They were a little bit bigger, but it didn't change it that much." To some, the thought of changing the very fabric of the game, a 4x6 net, is insane. Not only would it piss of the purists, it would reduce the quality of goals scored. Shots high blocker would start to be scored on a more than regular basis. It's not physically possible for a goaltender carrying a stick to bring his blocker up that high in a split second. Who wants to see guys step over the blue line and just wire it high blocker? The butterfly style has caused players to find highlight reel ways to score goals, which is only a good thing for the league.

I like the idea of allowing bigger curves to an extent. Unlimited curves should not be allowed, like some have suggested. We don't want to make it so that players can roof the puck with the flick of a wrist (and it would completely eliminate the backhand) but, the rule should be lessened year after year until we find the appropriate curve limit. But again I am forced to ask the question, will this really have a huge effect on goal scoring?

That's where you, the reader, comes in. I want to hear about some fresh, new ideas for increasing scoring. Everyone is sick of the ideas that have been thrown around for years, now show us something new. Don't suggest something that the league would never go for, but something plausible that people may have over looked. Lets hear it!


The Puck Stops Here said...

Why does it matter if scoring increases? I want to see good hockey get played - not gimmichs to raise the number of goals. Good hockey and lots of scoring are not the same thing