ESPN conducted a round table interview with NHLers regarding a number of topics. Among them, players were asked what one rule they would change or add to improve the game. A variety of answers were provided, but a number of them had to do with special teams and scoring goals, two areas where the Edmonton Oilers have a particular interest.
Operating this past season as the league’s best power play, many of the players surveyed wanted rule changes that make the advantage on the man-advantage greater, while making it harder for teams to kill penalties. Oilers fans would likely welcome these changes considering the power play is a major strength for this team.
Josh Morrisey — Change No. 1: Extended Power Plays
Josh Morrissey, a defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, suggested a rule change that would keep the power play alive even if the team with the advantage scored. He proposed, “If you score on the power play, the power play doesn’t end, so you get the full two minutes.”He picked this because he’s a power-play guy, but this would help the Oilers immensely.
Imagine if the Oilers, who tend to score quickly on their man advantage, got to keep the advantage after they scored? Realistically, Edmonton is so deadly when up a man, they could score two or three times in any given two-minute power play. It would give them a huge edge, and teams wouldn’t dare take a penalty against them, the result being that a player like Connor McDavid gets all the open ice he can possibly want.
The Oilers could realistically put a game out of reach if a team took a couple of first-period penalties.
Charlie McAvoy — Change No. 2: No Icing on the Penalty Kill
Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins also offered up an interesting idea, referencing an experiment by USA Hockey. He suggested eliminating the ability to ice the puck during a power play, explaining, “If you’re not able to ice the puck, then you’re forcing guys to try and make plays, try and lob it perfectly. I think it would make it really difficult.” Again, while the Oilers would have to deal with making sure they were strong in this regard on the penalty kill, it would help their power play a great deal.
McAvoy’s suggestion aims to increase the pressure on penalty-killing teams, potentially resulting in more scoring opportunities. The last thing teams want against Edmonton is more pressure when it comes to playing them a man down. If you can’t just ice the puck, defenses have to make a play and the Oilers are so fast at moving that puck, any split second the kill doesn’t move it, the incredibly skilled Oilers will take advantage.
What the Oilers are really good at is breaking down a team’s penalty kill structure. Add an extra decision to the equation for the opposing team, it adds another way the Oilers can get teams on their heels.
Tage Thompson — Change No. 3: Kicking The Puck In is Allowed
Tage Thompson, a forward for the Buffalo Sabres, suggested that kicking the puck in should be permitted to increase goal-scoring in the NHL. He argued that abolishing the rule that disallows goals scored by kicking the puck into the net would make the game more exciting and reward those who have the skill to pull off the move.
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Thompson said, “If you have the ability to redirect a pass with your skate or kick it in, I think that’s a skill. I think that’s not an easy thing to do. So, I think that should be a goal for sure.” He added, “You can kick it anywhere on the ice, except for in the net.”
Imagine how much this would benefit someone like Zach Hyman or Connor Brown as they stand in the net on the power play. What would a player like McDavid be able to do creatively if he was allowed to use his skate and a kicking motion as a weapon? This would benefit all teams, but the ones who have players who are known for their skill, or forwards who are willing to bang around in the crease will be heavily rewarded.
It’s unlikely that any of these changes actually take place in the NHL (at least not in the foreseeable future), but the idea of them and that this is something a handful of players want has to be enticing to Oilers fans.