Steve Ott, Jose Theodore

Brendan Shanahan says removing goalie trapezoid wouldn’t make a big difference


In the grand scheme of things, I think most people in the hockey world would agree that the post-lockout rule changes have benefited the style of play in significant ways. Sure, there’s still a concern that the neutral zone trap will rear its ugly head more often, but for the most part the sport is playing to its speedy, high-skill strengths.

That doesn’t mean that people are happy with every little tweak, though. The most obvious point of contention is the addition of the shootout,* but many find some of the league’s delay of game penalty procedures irksome as well.

We already discussed the much-reviled automatic delay of game penalty that a player (most times a defenseman) receives for sending the puck over the glass in his own zone, but there’s another unpopular application of the penalty that the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp actually did cover: the goalie trapezoid.

To refresh your memory, a goalie will receive a two-minute delay of game penalty if he handles the puck behind his net outside of a designated trapezoid-shaped area. The rule change seemed like a direct attack on the NHL’s most efficient puck-moving netminders (most notably Martin Brodeur) who developed their passing abilities to the point that they could make the dump-and-chase strategy far less successful.

It seems like a rather arbitrary way to try to open up offense and essentially penalize a rare skill, but those penalties have been rare and the effects have been difficult to measure. Former NHLer and current NHL exec Brendan Shanahan provided his own subjective account of the impact – or lack thereof – that would come from removing the unpopular trapezoid.

“We took out the trapezoid rule and yet the goalies still had no time to come out and play the puck,” Shanahan said Wednesday afternoon. “I think the idea of goaltenders coming out and having all day to set the puck up, tee it up are gone simply because of the lack of the defenseman’s ability to hold up the forecheckers now and clutch and grab through the neutral zone. So even though we said to the goalies go play the puck, they had no time.”

Shanahan was quick to point out that it was “just one test and it doesn’t mean it’s the end of that idea.” He also admitted that there may still be opportunities in the game that goalies could have the time to head into the corners and play the puck in order to start the attack going forward, but he firmly believes their opportunities would be few and far between in today’s game.

Then again, if the impact would be minimal, wouldn’t it be better to simply go the organic route by removing the trapezoid? Personally, I think that would be the best option, but it’s not a make-or-break situation considering the current style of play in the NHL.

* – Hatching plans to rid the world of the shootout seems pointless because it’s not going anywhere. That’s not to say I like the shootout, though. It justifies the worst instinct when it comes to competitiveness: the urge to play it safe. Coaches can ask their teams to sit back and just hope to make it through a five minute overtime period so they can try to win what is essentially a coin flip for an extra point. Shootouts are lame, but again, they’re going to be a part of the game for at least the short-term future so it’s best just to begrudgingly accept them like an irritating relative at Thanksgiving.

Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

“I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

“We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

“I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

“I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

“Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.