Let’s Light the Lamp: Increasing NHL’s Razzle Dazzle

Goal Scoring in Decline

When the NHL locked out for the second time during commissioner Gary Bettman’s tenure back in 2004, increasing goal scoring was a headliner on the to do list. After the entire 2004-05 season was missed, rule changes and game-play created a huge spike in scoring when the league returned the following year. Anyone who follows the NHL closely knows individual offensive statistics were inflated that year. Jonathan Cheechoo’s 56 goals anyone? (To be fair Cheechoo was a 28 goal scorer in 2003-04, which is arguably more impressive).

In the last few years though scoring has been back on the decline (if only slightly). From 2010 to 2013 goal scoring decreased each season. So how can we turn this around? While I’m not quite sure where Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski came up with the idea for shot blocking regulations, (I hope he was kidding) he does make a lot of good points. Power plays “having more teeth” is something almost all hockey fans can agree with.

No Free Icings

Last season the top two power play teams were the Pittsburgh Penguins  and Washington Capitals who each converted at 23.4 percent. The median team New York Rangers came in at 18.2 percent, 15th in the league. Now what if say, the top teams were producing at closer to 27 percent and the median rose to 21 or 22 percent?

Ovechkin

One of the more astute ideas to increase scoring comes courtesy of well respected former NHLer and current Sharks radio color commentator Jamie Baker. He proposed the idea a few years back that penalty killing teams shouldn’t be free to ice the puck. This change makes a lot of sense. Why should a short-handed team gain an advantage when they get penalized? Forcing teams who are down a skater to make soft chips out of the zone or else suffer a defensive zone face-off would definitely increase power-play percentages. How much exactly? Well, that’s hard to say, but this would be a move that is much easier than making goalie pads smaller (yet again) or increasing the size of the nets. It would also be easier to sell to the goaltenders.

Zone Entries, Let Them Play!

The other idea is a pet peeve of mine. You know how baseball says tie goes to the runner? Well, what is with the NHL and their linesmen blowing down every single close offsides play? Every year each team has numerous legal zone entries (usually exciting ones at speed) blown down because of offside whistles that shouldn’t of been blown. Yet the only memorable time a goal was scored when it should have clearly been called offside was this Matt Duchene goal.

Chicago Blackhawks Lines

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

There is simply nothing more exciting than a goal being scored shortly after a team enters the zone at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, way too often do we see great opportunities blown dead. For some asinine reason, linesmen are trained to err on the side of extreme caution. This simply goes against the spirit of hockey. If the play is so close that the linesman isn’t 100% sure when making the call, let them play! Think about it, how many times are we fans really complaining about an offside not being called? To me, it doesn’t seem that often. However on the flip side I often catch myself yelling “C’monnnnn that was not offside!!!! What are you looking at!” on a regular basis.

Increasing power-play goals by taking away free icing, and erring on the side of offense when it comes to zone entries seem like no brainers to me to increase exciting hockey. Those razzle-dazzle, inside-out goals off the rush? Thank you sir, may I have another?

 

Andrew Bensch

Andrew Bensch

Andrew has been credentialed to cover the Sharks since 2010 and the 49ers since 2012. He graduated with his BA in Broadcast Electronic Communication Arts in 2013 from San Francisco State University. You can follow Andrew on twitter: @ViewFromBensch
Andrew Bensch
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6 Comments

  1. Absolutely agree on no free icings! What about the wider blue line idea? The linesmen can still err but there will be fewer occasions for them to do so. You don’t have to retrain the linesmen.
    Only as a last resort, and I mean before they put the NHL in Mexico City, do you enlarge the nets. That would be akin to 4 strikes in baseball or Canadian football where catches are still good on one bounce.

    • Andrew Bensch Andrew Bensch says:

      Appreciate the comment Mike! Im not clear on how wider blue line would help, because it’s still about the very edge of the puck and edge of the blueline when determining offsides. I dont like the nets bigger or goalie pads smaller ideas, i think that is asking too much of the goalies

  2. No free icings is a good idea,so is a larger goal. It tough to get the traditionalist to go along with anything.

    • Andrew Bensch Andrew Bensch says:

      Thanks for the comment terry! I just don’t like the idea of changing the size of things, I think that would be tougher for goalies to get used to and is going too easy on the shooters imo.

      • Sovereign Tech says:

        I agree with this . It would take years for goaltenders to adjust to an increased net size, and I think it would open up the game TOO much. Elite shooters would have a field day. Personally I think a better option is to increase the size of the ice surface, but I doubt owners would ever agree as it would cut into their profits. Also there is no guarantee it would actually lead to a significant increase in goals.

        • Andrew Bensch Andrew Bensch says:

          Appreciate the comment! Taking away icing on the pk is a simple change that can be easy to change back if it doesn’t work or provides too much scoring.

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