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.”