Goalies caught off guard as NHL enforces dormant stick length rule

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The NHL is cracking down on the length of goalie sticks this season after “years of ignoring” the rule, according to Kevin Woodley of In Goal Magazine.

The rule — a 26-inch maximum paddle length — was addressed in a Sept. 5 memo informing teams the league would be cracking down this season.

Here’s more, from In Goal:

Just like any other piece of illegal equipment, if a goalie is caught with a long paddle in a post-game inspection, they are subject to an automatic two-game suspension, the equipment manager is fined $1,000, and the team is dinged $25,000.

Unlike a player’s stick, it is not subject to in-game measurement.

That news came as a shock to “roughly half” of NHL netminders that, according to one goalie coach, used sticks with paddles longer than 26 inches.

(According to Woodley’s “industry insider” that makes NHL sticks for three different brands, that number actually closer to 80 percent than 50.)

“We had to change my stick because I have used the same stick for five years and all of a sudden it’s too long,” Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk explained. “We’ve tried to work with it to make it as little of an adjustment as possible.

“I need a little bit more grip around it because I narrowed it down, and that’s it.”

(In a *possibly* related story, Dubnyk was shelled for five goals on 28 shots in an opening night loss to Winnipeg.)

Ottawa backup Robin Lehner, who made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season, told Woodley he wasn’t even aware the 26-inch rule existed.

“I had no clue,” he explained. “I had my 28 inch for a very long time.”

Stick size is just one of several changes NHL goalies had to adjust to for this season. There was the reduction in leg pad size and shallower nets — and it may have made an early difference in goals allowed.

Though the sample size is small, goals have been aplenty over the first two days of the regular season. Toronto and Montreal combined for seven, Winnipeg and Edmonton tallied nine and Chicago-Washington went for 10 on opening night; on Wednesday, Anaheim and Colorado combined for seven.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim