Wednesday, January 28, 2009
One of the reasons spewed out ad infinitum as to why scoring is down is the size of the goalie equipment. Yet somehow these same Michelin Men netminders gave up 22 goals in 65 minutes of hockey in the All-Star Game.
Duck and cover
Sure this game is known for its lack of defence but shouldn't the larger netminders anyway at best up the scoring no more than a few goals over the 5+ average a regular season game sees?
Maybe the real reason scoring is down is more down to the style of play in the NHL. Although the neutral zone trap and its cousin, the left-wing lock, are still with us, they are not as much a factor as during the Dead Puck Era.
Given no player was really attempting to block shots in the All-Star Game and there has been an idea floated about to ban shot blocking, maybe that is the route towards more chances on net at least. Because this is what we are ultimately talking about. It's not the dearth of scoring but the non-action of so many meaningless regular season games.
Sure the play in 2008-09 is far superior than in the 1990s but it's a far cry from the Air Hockey '80s let alone the '70s when hockey probably struck the perfect balance between offence and defence (albeit bench clearing brawls sometimes disrupted all that...so the obvious solution must be to bring back the bench clearing. "Bettman, you're out! Schultz, you're the new commish!").
Shot blocking is a skill but it has gotten completely out of whack. It seems more players work on shot blocking as well as filling lanes and having "active" sticks than on traditional skills like, oh, skating, shooting and passing.
Something has to give. I'm all for 4-on-4 hockey for the entire 60 minutes. After all hockey started out as a 6-on-6 game then evolved into the current 5-on-5 game.
Be it the size of the goalie pads or the bigger and stronger players out there, it's about creating space to create goal scoring chances. I'm not really saying anything new here, but the All-Star Shinny proved it's not the players' fault for a lack of scoring. It's the way the game is coached now. For that it takes a different mindset and an emphasis on creativity rather than on figuring out ways to suck the life out of the opposition. Yes, I am talking to you Jacques Lemaire, Ken Hitchcock, Jacques Martin and your ilk.