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 Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of good news lately. They’ve won five in a row and goalie Steve Mason has been solid in that span, being named on Monday the NHL’s first star for the week.
But it hasn’t all been positive.
Forward Matt Read is out of the lineup for at least four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Flyers announced Monday. The injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators.
It’s been reported the injury is an oblique muscle pull.
With Read out, the Flyers have recalled Taylor Leier from the American Hockey League.
Leier has been very productive in the minors. In 22 games this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he has six goals and 20 points.
The topic of a possible Wild Card play-in game being added to the NHL’s playoff format isn’t new.
General managers around the league have talked about it before. The idea recently seemed to gain traction with at least the small majority, too.
Hockey insider Bob McKenzie once polled all 30 GMs to get a sense of how many would be in favor of such a thing — and 16 of those GMs were. You can count Ken Holland with the Detroit Red Wings as someone who would like to see a Wild Card play-in game.
Holland is also a baseball fan and likes the way MLB has created must-watch play-in games. In baseball, there are three division winners in each league. Those three teams qualify for the division round of the postseason. Two wild-card teams in each league square off in a one-game play-in to decide the fourth divisional qualifier on each side.
“I’m all for an extra team in each conference qualifying for the playoffs and having a wild- card play-in game,” said Holland. “It would add excitement down the stretch for many more teams fighting for the additional wild-card spot and two extra teams would be involved in the playoffs. Those play-in games would be dramatic.”
Of course, the interesting thing about that is the Red Wings have a streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances on the line.
But their best days — when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg led them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the final the following year — are long behind them. The organization has undergone substantial change with Zetterberg getting older, the loss of Datsyuk to the KHL and Mike Babcock joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings could be in real danger of missing the post-season under its current format in 2017.
Detroit is two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the East, with New Jersey and Boston still ahead of them, although not currently in a playoff spot.
Three forwards — Brock Boeser, Alex DeBrincat, and Colin White — and two defensemen — Chad Krys and Charlie McAvoy — make up the five returnees that were named today to the preliminary roster for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.
Other recognizable names include first-round draft picks Luke Kunin, Clayton Keller, Logan Brown, Kieffer Bellows, Jack Roslovic, and Tage Thompson.
“This is a talented, versatile group of players that has found success across all levels of hockey,” said general manager Jim Johannson from USA Hockey. “There is depth at every position, and while we still have some difficult decisions to make, we feel each of these players can fit the style of hockey Coach Motzko (U.S. head coach Bob Motzko) first implemented at our National Junior Evaluation Camp last August.”
Click here for the full preliminary roster. D-man Jack Ahcan (St. Cloud State) and goalie Jake Oettinger (BU) are the only ones who have yet to be drafted. Oettinger doesn’t turn 18 until later this month.
The players will attend training camp Dec. 16-20 in Buffalo, then an additional camp in Oshawa, Ontario, from Dec. 20-24.
Of the 27 camp invitees (three goalies, eight d-men, and 16 forwards), only 23 will make the cut.
USA won bronze at the 2016 World Juniors in Finland.
Related: Barzal, Strome, Patrick among invitees to Canada’s World Juniors camp
The update on the injury Alex Galchenyuk suffered during Montreal’s win in L.A. on Sunday wasn’t definitive, but it was ominous.
From the Habs:
Galchenyuk suffered a lower body injury on December 4 in Los Angeles. He went for medical testing in St. Louis earlier Monday, and will be out indefinitely.
He will be further evaluated by team doctors in Montreal on Wednesday. An update will be released later this week.
The injury occurred in the third period of Sunday’s game, when he collided with Kings center Anze Kopitar.
Galchenyuk, 22, leads the Canadiens with nine goals and 23 points in 25 games this year and is one of the club’s top faceoff men, at least in terms of draws taken. He also averages over 16 minutes per night and features prominently on the power play.
So, needless to say, this is a potentially massive loss for Montreal.
The Habs will wrap their three-game road swing in St. Louis tomorrow, and are then back in action Thursday, when they host the Devils.
If Galchenyuk is out for a significant length of time, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Martin Hanzal-to-Montreal trade rumblings start up again.