Like many of his counterparts, New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider had an easy choice when presented with the option of larger nets or smaller equipment in the NHL’s latest bid to boost goal-scoring.
Don’t mess with the nets.
“Absolutely. I think we have to explore every avenue we can to maybe change the gear before we change the nets,” Schneider said. “It would be like changing the size of the pucks.”
Reducing the rubber isn’t going to happen, but it appears that the era of Michelin Man-like goalies—outfitted with bulging chest and shoulder pads, and wearing pants 14 sizes too big—might be drawing to a close.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association are in discussions to standardize goalie gear based on a player’s size. The proposed rules would regulate pants, all upper body pads and potentially introduce a more form-fitting jersey.
Goalies would have their equipment approved by the NHL, rather than dealing directly with manufacturers as they do now.
This would be the next step in a process that began in 2013-14, when the league started regulating the length of goalie leg pads.
The objectives are to increase scoring, place more emphasis on a goalie’s skill and establish a more even playing field.
“I think that’s the biggest insecurity of goaltending: ‘What's he doing that I’m not doing?’ or, “Why does he look so big and I look so small?’” said Schneider, who has played a role in the discussions. “I think it’s natural that the gear should fit your body, and not you should fit the gear.”
Talks will continue at the All-Star Game in Nashville, Tennessee, next month. The new rules would have to be in place by spring to allow time for the NHL to measure goalies and suppliers to manufacture the equipment before next season.
There is also a proposal to eliminate the trapezoid in each corner, where goalies are not allowed to handle the puck. This would in theory reward goalies with puck-handling ability, while creating the possibility for more turnovers for goalies who struggle in that area.
Pekka Rinne is fine with whatever is decided.
“It’s always something,” the Predators goalie said. “I’m sure something’s going to happen to the gear. But still, it doesn’t matter. Goalies are going to be good, no matter what.”
He does have a unique idea on increasing scoring.
“Make a rule that guys can’t work out during the summer,” Rinne said, breaking into a grin. “Just take it easy and not do anything.”
By rallying for a 2–1 win over the Red Wings on Monday, the Sabres beat Detroit in regulation for the first time since the movie Shawshank Redemption was a new release. Including a shootout victory in 2006, Buffalo was 1-12-4 in its previous 17 visits to Motown since a 3-2 win on March 6, 1994.
Also on Monday, the Oilers earned a rare win at Boston, with a 3–2 overtime victory. The Bruins still earned a point and improved to 9-0-2 in their past 11 home games against the Oilers since a 6-0 loss on Nov. 7, 1996. According to STATS, the Calgary Flames own the NHL’s longest active skid: 0-16-5 in their past 21 visits to Anaheim, dating to April 4, 2004.
The Penguins hold the NHL record, going 0-39-3 at Philadelphia from Feb. 7, 1974, to Dec. 8, 1988.
Oilers forward Taylor Hall scored the game-winner in three consecutive games as Edmonton swept a five-game home stand last week. Hall now has five game-winners to share the NHL lead with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. The Oilers had won six straight, their best run since a six-game streak from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3, 2011, before a 4–2 loss at the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
The Rangers are 3-6-2 since getting off to a franchise-best 16-3-2 start. After allowing 39 goals in its first 21 games, New York has given up 35 in its past 11.
Jets players and spouses took to the catwalk last week to help raise $200,000 for local charities as part of the NHLPA’s first fashion show. Approximately 1,000 fans attended the event held at a Winnipeg convention center. There have been discussions to hold similar shows in other NHL markets.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Kane, whose 26-game point-streak ended in Chicago’s 3–0 loss to Colorado on Tuesday, makes his annual visit to his hometown of Buffalo on Saturday afternoon. It will be Kane’s first visit since prosecutors declined to file charges against the Blackhawks star in November after a three-month rape investigation produced a lack of credible evidence.
ˆAP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville and freelance writer Denis Gorman in New York contributed to this report.