During last night’s preseason game between Ottawa and Toronto there were a few different things in play that you may have noticed. The NHL tested out a handful of the innovations that were used during the NHL’s Research and Development Camp this summer to help officials and players in regard to scoring and goals.
If you were taking a close look at the nets as well as in and around the goals themselves you noticed a handful of alterations meant to help verify goals. The green verification line was inside the net to help with replays, thin mesh on the top of the goal, and a clear plastic skirt along the bottom of the net were all in play. While none of the replay alterations got a chance to be used, the one that got the most notice were the shallower goals for the goalies to protect.
Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press discussed the nets with both Maple Leafs goalies who played in last nights game. Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens gave their thoughts on the nets.
“People who are a lot smarter than I thought that there was going to be more offence generated from it,” said Scrivens. “You know, they’re the ones who make the decisions and they thought that there would be more chances and more action around the net. I’m sure that’s why they went with it.”
Added Jonas Gustavsson, who started against the Senators: “I guess you’ve got to be quicker post-to-post when they’re going behind the net.”
While the nets will need league approval to be changed, giving them a look in real game action during the preseason when the games don’t count for anything is the best way to show them off and see how well they function. You could argue that Ottawa’s first goal last night got a benefit from the shallow nets as Nikita Filatov had a bit more room to maneuver behind the net (video) to feed a pinching Jared Cowen for a goal.
It’s a very small sample size, but giving guys more room to play behind the net on offense is such a subtle change but a good one. Having more room to create and elude defenders helps the offensive flow. Gustavsson’s point about having to be quicker going from post to post to prevent wraparounds is a great one. The wraparound goal is one that you don’t see happen too often these days because of defensive positioning and having to circle back behind the net far enough to give goalies time to get in place.
After one game, however, the shallow nets look even more like a no-brainer innovation for the league to adopt. Boosting offense without radically altering the game by way of making the nets bigger or anything out of that mold are the kinds of things that should get very strong consideration. Shallow nets don’t do anything to make the game into a circus and if making goalies work a little harder and pay better attention to the play going on around them is the only real alteration, it’s time for the league to go ahead with it.
The low penalty minutes and high point totals are in, and thus we have the 2016 NHL Awards’ three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Loui Eriksson and Anze Kopitar.
OK, the actual definition for the award is that it goes “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Same difference, eh?
Barkov really made a breakthrough this season with the Florida Panthers, scoring 59 points versus just eight penalty minutes. He only has 34 PIM in 191 career regular season contests.
You can see Eriksson and Kopitar representing their respective countries in this post’s main image. Eriksson enjoyed his best (and maybe last?) season with the Boston Bruins while Kopitar hopes to win the 2016 Selke as the Los Angeles Kings’ defensively adept – yet apparently courteous – forward.
It’s unclear who wins this “fight,” but one would assume it wouldn’t be a dirty one.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Some reading to get you pumped up:
– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).
– Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.
– T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.
– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).
– Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.
The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.
Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.
Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.
Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.
As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.
Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.
For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.
The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”
Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.
The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.
“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.