Goalies react after trying shorter pads

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Will we see an increase in scoring in 2013-14? That will be one of the key questions after the NHL and players’ association agreed to reduce the size of goaltender leg pads.

Previously, netminders were allowed goalie pads that could cover 55 percent of the gap from the knee to pelvis. That’s been reduced to 45 percent starting with this season, according to NHL.com. That might be a bit hard to picture, but fortunately the 6-foot-2 Craig Anderson tweeted a nice visual representation of the change. In the picture to the right, his old leg pad is placed next to his new, smaller one.

As you can see, it’s not a drastic change, but it certainly is a noticeable one. Naturally though, the difference is dependent on the goaltender’s size.

A smaller goaltender like the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jonathan Bernier stands to only lose about an inch, but some guys will have to deal with about a five-inch reduction between their two pads, which in Bernier’s words is “huge.”

While these changes have been talked about for a little bit now, goaltenders are getting a chance to make their first impressions now that they’re getting their 2013-14 pads.

“They feel a little bit shorter, yeah, but it’s not too much of a big change,” Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. “I’m sure there will be a bit of an adjustment period, but it’s something I’ve gone through and the other goalies have gone through before.

“I just hope it’s not something that leads to injuries. With a shorter pad, hopefully we’ll have a good limit for knee pads so guys don’t get hurt.”

Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury largely echoed Crawford’s concerns about what this change might mean when it comes to their protection against potential knee injuries. NHL goaltenders are already allowed to wear knee pads that are nine inches across, but the NHLPA and league are still talking about possible changes.

“We have to find a way to protect the guys that play that way, but make sure the protection just follows the contour of their knee and doesn’t plug the five hole,” NHL senior manager of hockey operations and goaltending equipment Kay Whitmore said.

As for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, he just doesn’t want to see goaltenders get the blame if this adversely impacts their numbers.

“Coaches and GMs, you guys want that, you’ve been asking for more goals [through the] five hole,” Giguere said. “So if your goalie gives up a goal five hole, you need to take a breath and remember that you asked for it.”

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.