Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is Bigger Better?

Yeah, I think so. Some think the league does too.
The league admits that the game needs more scoring. As Bettman said in his press conference at the All-Star game, "The focus on offense remains the priority."

Furthermore, it's no secret that the league has given the matter of larger nets serious consideration.

Even though some great hockey thinkers — including Wayne Gretzky — are appalled by the concept, there's just too much of an undercurrent in the league at the moment to think that the larger nets are not the way of the future.

And really, what else can the league do? The players have accepted the new officiating standard and still, scoring hasn't increased. Blocked shots are a way of life and since the league insists that it can't think of a way to reduce the size of goaltenders' equipment to a sensible level, where else can they go?

The new nets will be eight inches wider than the standard six feet, and six inches higher than the current four feet.

When you sit in the stands and see these nets in place, they don't look any larger than the ones currently in use. But that small increase is significant in that it provides an extra six square feet for the snipers to shoot at.

It's those extra eight inches in width that will have the biggest effect on the game. The extra height will have some impact, but the extra width is a much bigger factor. It means that goalies will no longer be able to flop down into a butterfly position and cover the entire lower quarter of the net without exposing their five-hole.

Goalies have been getting taller and taller over the years and, like players at other positions, have become more proficient. But they've also learned how to make themselves more efficient with the minimum of work.

If they drop down, they don't need to see the puck or make any further moves. Their leg pads are the maximum the league allows and they can therefore leave no low opening even though their knees may be more than a foot apart.

This forces an attacking player to shoot high, but not too high. That's no easy feat if you're on the edge of the crease.

But with the wider nets, goalies will be forced to move. If they merely drop down and expose those extra inches inside the post, the shooters will soon learn to take advantage — as they did in the days before the size of goalie equipment reached its present ridiculous stage.

Goalies will have to move to the puck, and once they move to one post, they'll create a larger opening at the other post which the accurate shooters will exploit.

The larger nets will demand more from goalies but reward skilled offensive players. And that's what fans want.
Yep, I agree.

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