Dallas Stars Daily Links: Make the Nets Bigger or the Goalie Equipment Smaller?
What can the NHL do to fix its plummeting goal-scoring totals? Lots of things, but they just don't do them. Also, who's going to sign Karri this summer, and Babcock+McLellan should form a private detective clinic to replace Psych
Goals are fun, right? The Stars scored, well, a whole mess o' goals this year, as Taylor (and y'all in the comments) have been discussing lately. It's fun to hear the goal horn in the AAC, and the NHL would probably do well to make sure that the horn continues to sound with regularity as they continue to expand the #NHL brand.
Here's the thing, though: goal-scoring was down this year. How down? Like, really, really down. Is it the goalies' fault? Well, sort of, insofar as they are the ones whose job it is to prevent goals from happening. There's more to it, though, because there always is. And lately, the solution to the dearth of lamp-lighting most oft-proposed has revolved not around the goaltenders themselves, but the frame of the area which they tend:
So the solution many have proposed is to make the nets bigger. That seems simple enough. If goalies get bigger, the nets get bigger, and goals start going in with greater frequency. But the question you have to ask yourself is how much that fundamentally changes the sport, and in short order. Even if you make the nets 73-by-49, adding just one inch to both the height and width, the sport changes at a fundamental level for every goaltender who has ever played the game; their angles would be just slightly wrong, and that would probably lead to more goal-scoring.
But here's the problem: That makes goaltenders less valuable. And many teams have invested a lot of money in their goalies. If goalies are easier to beat, they're easier to replace.
Their value relative to each other stays the same, but their value relative to forwards and defenses decreases, because they're saving fewer goals overall and therefore contributing less to wins and losses. If you just locked up one of the best goalies in the world for nearly a decade like the Rangers did, the monetary size of that investment decreases. Roberto Luongo famously threatened to retire on the spot if such a change was made. There would be a lot of pushback on such a move, and rightly so. Increasing the size of the nets is a really stupid idea.
A better idea might be to change the nature of the game without making what goalies do all that different. A prototype net the league tried out in 2009, and obviously ended up rejecting, was one that came with oval pipes rather than circular. This way, shots that would normally be off-the-post-and-out sighs of relief for the goaltender would become off-the-post-and-in regrets, and this is apparently true especially when shots hit the crossbar (which makes plenty of sense because of the angle of entry most of the time). And while the posts would be the same width, there would be a slight broadening of the angle at which a shot could theoretically go into the net.
Or, y'know, they could just make the equipment smaller (again). That might actually require them to enforce the rules, but one step at a time, I guess.
Seriously, how can you talk about expanding the nets before you get, well, serious about keeping goalie equipment honest? I get that it's tough to enforce a standard across the many different beautiful bodies inhabiting creases throughout the league, but you still have to admit that this was a far, far cry from this. Yes, goalies are getting bigger, but there's a reason there are like seven or nine or however many "holes" when it comes to shooting practice. Humans have extremities, and the space between those does not come webbed!
Besides, would the NHL even change the nets to begin with? It certainly seems unlikely, although less and less is sacred these days when it comes to making the game watchable. For my money, there's nothing like an acrobatic save by a goalie. There is value (and even glory) to be found in "letting the puck hit you," but just look at soccer--here you have a sport where the net is roughly the size of a bus, and the goalie is barely allowed to wear Mickey Mouse gloves. And yet, you have an almost laughably tiny amount of goals occurring per game. Sure, it's different, and yeah, you have twice as many people on the pitch as you do on the ice; but I can't help but wonder if the NHL would make its product much more watchable by making the goalie's job harder before they try to make the shooter's job easier. That may seem like a half-dozen of one, six of the other, but come on--you can't tell me that there isn't a lost beauty in these sorts of saves:
Okay, that is admittedly a bit much to ask for. Those goalies probably wore less padding than your average 3rd-line winger nowadays. But how about, say, this:
Look, all I'm asking for here is the technique and skill of modern-day goaltenders without the benefit of the Michelin Man gear they've been tacitly allowed to use. Can we really not do anything about that before we start widening the pipes?
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What was the classiest concert you ever went to? I won two tickets to see the Russian National Orchestra from the local radio station when I was like 16. I took my mom.
Mark Stepneski is here to let y'all know what in tarnation happened in Prague yesterday. IIHF Worlds Update: ACTIVATE. [Stars]
If you've missed the first two episodes of the new Stars-themed radio program (pronounced "paroh-grum") then click on this link and listen to them, dummy. [Stars]
Here is a great end-of-year look at the most notable of Dallas Stars prospects. I basically just steal the links that commenter denniso posts and that is my job. Pay me. [Hockey's Future]
The Lightning were dealt a...well, it depends on how you view Jonathan Drouin, but perhaps "a blow" is not inappropriate for the news regarding Ryan Callahan's emergency appendectomy. [SI]
Derek is a big fan of Karri Ramo's. I am less of a fan, but there's no denying that Ramo is going to be pursued this offseason, even if the Stars aren't among old double-R's retinue. [THN]
Great news, everyone! Corey Perry is feeling fine now, which is more than you'll be able to say after seeing his facial hair in the linked video. [NHL]
Kerry Fraser has joined the dark side. He actually went out of his way to explain why Corey Perry's goal should not have been disallowed. These are evil days. [TSN]
Next year's likely top draft pick Auston Matthews might play for Marc Crawford in the Swiss Elite League during his draft year rather than spending it in North America. It sounds crazy, but then I remembered that there is a loophole in the Swiss judicial system: he would get money. [SportsNet]
Whether it's Edmonton or somewhere else, Todd McLellan is the Babcock-Lite of this summer's coaching buffet. No seconds until everyone's gotten one, please. [Hockey Writers]
Are the Flames going to be bad next year after making the playoffs this season? Probably, yeah. [Hockey-Graphs]
Oh no, what the Flyers gonna DO this offseason? [TSN]
What do you think is the literal worst thing a GM can do for his team this summer? Well... [THN]
Finally, the Senators have agreed to terms with BU goalie Matt O'Connor (who probably won't even be all that great). Here is something he did very recently: