Kari Lehtonen, Dale Weise

Report: NHL to propose significant goalie pad downsizing

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The NHL will propose new goalie pad regulations when it meets with the NHLPA’s competition committee on Tuesday, according to a report from In Goal Magazine.

The proposal will introduce what would be major changes for netminders.

In Goal reports the NHL will table a pad height amendment that could decrease pad height by three inches (essentially creating a six-inch opening in the five-hole) or a fixed height for all goalies, abandoning the “individual sizing chart” which allowed pad size to be dictated by the goalie’s dimensions.

Here’s more on the two proposed options, from In Goal:

1. Continued use of the individual sizing chart, but with a reduction in the thigh rise from 55 per cent of each goalie’s measurement from the knee to hip, down to 40 per cent. The NHL targeted a 50 per cent maximum eight years ago, but it was negotiated up to 55 per cent by the NHLPA.

Given the average total measurement in the League is around 20 inches, a 15 per cent reduction would equate to three lost inches in pad height. Of course that is three inches per pad, and given most goalies use the top of these pads to close the 5-hole when they are down on the ice, that could mean an additional six-inch opening.

2. A fixed maximum for every goalie above the knee, likely between seven and eight inches. This would eliminate the sizing chart for thigh rise, and instead fix a maximum height for every goalie’s pad above the knee. Using the average 20-inch knee-to-hip measurement, an eight-inch maximum would be the same as a 40 per cent maximum.

In Goal also reports the NHL will discuss how goalies are wearing their equipment, and how to enforce it during the season.

In an interesting twist, Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth confirmed to the magazine the NHL “cut the shoulder pads on his chest-and-arm unit” during the 2013 campaign — but that didn’t happen until he was already off to an 8-0-0 start.

Fasth proceeded to go 7-6-2 for the remainder of the season, though it must be said he wasn’t cheating with his pads.

The NHL originally approved his equipment, only to later make alterations when his shoulder pads looked bigger than expected.

The NHL may also look at how goalies wear boot straps (read here for how former Calgary goalie Danny Taylor used this to his advantage) and other equipment modifications.

“We want everyone with the same stuff,” Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, who serves on the NHLPA Competition Committee, told In Goal.

“We understand it’s a tough position and everyone does different things to be successful, but at the end of the day we all want to be on the same playing field.”

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.