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.”

The Leafs’ remaining schedule is no cakewalk

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The Toronto Maple Leafs took care of business last night, sending the floundering Florida Panthers to a 3-2 defeat at Air Canada Centre.

Now comes the hard part for the young Leafs. They have seven games left to book their first playoff appearance since 2013, and their schedule is no cakewalk.

The Leafs’ next three games are all on the road, in Nashville Thursday, Detroit Saturday, and Buffalo Monday. After that, it’s a four-game home stand to close out the schedule, all against formidable opponents: Washington, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Columbus.

With a four-point playoff cushion, the Leafs can afford to lose a few games down the stretch. But head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t want his players looking too far ahead.

“I really believe with our group if we just focus on the day we’re playing and play right, we have a real good chance to win,” Babcock said. “That’s what we talk about and that’s kind of our mantra every day is just play right, play fast and we have an opportunity to be successful. We don’t get all caught up in the race. We know the standings, it’s in the paper every day, so we know that.”

The Leafs today sent goalie Garret Sparks back to the AHL. That can only mean good news for starter Frederik Andersen, who could play Thursday after missing last night’s victory with an upper-body injury.

Backup Curtis McElhinney got the nod against the Panthers, calling it the biggest game of his career. The 33-year-old then went out and made 25 saves to earn the win.

“It was great,” said McElhinney. “Getting a couple of goals in the first period there helped out a little bit and let me settle into it. It was a nice win.”

Parise ‘pretty black and blue’ after Wilson high stick, but injury not serious

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Zach Parise looked in bad shape after taking a Tom Wilson high stick to the face in Minnesota’s loss to Washington on Tuesday.

Thankfully for the Wild, Parise’s early diagnosis is a good one.

“He can see and is fine as far as that goes,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s sore in the upper body. I don’t think he’ll be out long.”

Boudreau went on to add that Parise was “pretty black and blue” and unlikely to play tomorrow, when Minnesota hosts Ottawa. That said, the club expects the 32-year-old to return next week.

It goes without saying that losing Parise is huge. The alternate captain has 17 goals and 37 points through 64 games this year, and is averaging 17:33 TOI per night. And for a Wild team that’s mired in a horrific slump — just three wins in its last 15 games — being down the services of such a vital contributor is costly.

Related: Stewart fought Wilson in response to the high stick

Stamkos ‘getting really close’ to return

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It probably won’t happen Thursday against the Red Wings, but Steven Stamkos is getting close to making his return for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think we can start putting him in the day-to-day category right now,” said Bolts coach Jon Cooper, per team beat writer Bryan Burns. “I don’t see him playing against Detroit. After that, I’d say it’s getting really close.”

Stamkos, who hasn’t played since November due to a knee injury, practiced today with his teammates. He took line rushes and even worked with the second-unit power play.

“Today was probably the best day yet,” the captain said. “Doing better than last time we talked and really feeling better each day now.”

Tampa Bay’s next game after Thursday’s is Saturday against Montreal.

The Lightning are three points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot in the East, but they do hold a game in hand on the Bruins.

A challenging offseason awaits Dean Lombardi

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For the 23rd time this season — the most in the NHL — the Los Angeles Kings lost a game in regulation after they outshot an opponent.

It happened last night in Edmonton, where the Kings outshot the Oilers, 35-29, but lost on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Afterwards, captain Anze Kopitar could only express his frustration.

“It seems like we’re beating the dead horse every night,” Kopitar said, per LA Kings Insider. “We outshoot teams, we out-chance teams yet we’re on the other side of the winning part, so bottom line it’s just not good enough. Whether that’s offensively or defensively, we’ve got to be better in both areas.”

It’s mostly offensively. For whatever reason, the Kings have the second-worst shooting percentage (7.6) in the NHL, with only Colorado’s (7.2) being lower.

Perhaps the Kings aren’t getting enough quality shots. Perhaps they don’t have enough quality shooters.

Probably a bit of both.

But it’s something that GM Dean Lombardi will need to address this offseason — assuming he can.

Roster-wise, the big problem for Lombardi is that the Kings have a pair of veteran wingers, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, whose contracts look a lot like anchors.

Brown, 32, and Gaborik, 35, have combined for just 21 goals this season. Meanwhile, their combined cap hit is north of $10 million, and there’s plenty of term left on each deal.

Not helping? Both Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are pending RFAs, and they’re in line for raises.

Oh, and there’s not much in the way of top prospects, either. In the past four drafts, only once have the Kings made a first-round pick. (Adrian Kempe went 29th overall in 2014.)

Eleven points back of the second wild-card spot in the West, the Kings are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They’re in Calgary tonight to take on the Flames.

Related: Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski