There is plenty of talk in the National Hockey League on how to open up the scoring more. This past season the league decided to make the nets slightly shallower – giving players and goalies more room behind the net.
The jury is still out on whether or not that this has caused an increase in scoring on a league wide scale.
The league, in concert with the department of player safety as well as the competition committee also made the protective equipment of the goaltenders small this year – still large enough to protect the legs of one of the highest paid players on the team, but hopefully small enough to allow more goals.
The problem with minor changes such as these? Teams adapt and overcome and game plan for the changes. Take a look at your team’s Corsi number – how many shots are taken that don’t even hit the net either they are intentionally shot wide because that is all that is available, or the shot gets blocked on purpose or otherwise before it even has the chance to think about becoming a goal,
Now is the time for the National Hockey League to start thinking about a bigger ice surface to open up the offensive scoring in the NHL. Oh sure, now your going to have all the pundits and anti-scoring folks say its impossible, teams would never remove high dollar seats to make the ice bigger.
Well guess what, you can make the offensive zone bigger without removing a single seat in your arena.
The National Hockey League needs to look at adding a little bit of paint to the ice surface, giving the offensive team slightly more room in the offensive zone, and reducing the size of the neutral zone. I am not saying we move the blue line, just make it bigger.
I mean, really – outside of the New Jersey Devils who actually plays hockey in the neutral zone? Offensive zone puck possession is the new advanced stat that everyone is looking at right?
The current offensive zone is 64 feet from the goal line to the blue line. You can keep that dimension but add three more feet to the offensive zone by making the blue line extend 48 inches from the current starting point instead of its current 12 inches in width.
Sure it might look weird at first and teams would have to game plan for a bigger offensive zone when it comes to the line change on the long change, but adding that space is going to keep the puck in the zone more often, power plays will have more room to work, five on five teams will have more room in the offensive zone. Sure it might benefit the more offensively gifted teams more, but with little or no separation in the standings for many teams in each conference, a little disparity amongst the ranks might give more teams incentive to spend money on good players and get better.
This isn’t the first time this has come up – this is a modification to a theory that was presented by Scotty Bowman during the full season lockout where he modified the lines and sizes of the paint job on the rink to try and open up scoring. The league rejected his proposal at the time, but I think it is time they revisit the system, at least where the blue line is concerned.