Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/16/14 at 11:55 AM ET
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
If the NHL’s move to smaller pads was initially opposed by many of the men who go to work wearing them, certainly the statistics have softened resistance. Scoring is up only a fraction this season, to 5.34 goals a game from 5.30 a season ago.
Meanwhile, the league-average save percentage has gone in a counterintuitive direction. Two seasons ago it was .911. Last year it was .909. This year it’s at .914. If the new-found mobility provided by smaller pads hasn’t been solely responsible for making goalies better, it’s hard to argue they’ve made them worse.
Still, Whitmore, the league’s senior manager of hockey operations, said the changes have done what they were designed to do — specifically, to ensure that goaltenders are required to make “more athletic saves” rather than simply allowing supersized equipment to block pucks.
“If it’s an athletic save, it’s as exciting as a goal,” said Whitmore, 46, who played goal in 155 NHL games. “Sometimes we were getting to the point where these big pads were just getting in the way and the pucks are just hitting them. I’m not saying there’s a right way and a wrong way to play goal. But when you watched Mike Palmateer and those guys as a kid, it was exciting. It made you want to be a goalie.
“We want to see the best athletes (wanting) to be goalies again. Football always has the best athletes at wide receiver and quarterback. Goalie is the most important position on most teams. Why not have the best athlete?”
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