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Non-goalie solutions to the NHL's lack of scoring

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Due to advancements in scouting and video technology, the NHL is not going to be able to find a long-term solution to low goal-scoring and boring games.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is talking about making nets bigger. They are talking about shrinking goalie equipment again. They are looking at goalies as the way to fix the low-scoring nature of the NHL. They need to realize that no matter what ideas they come up with and what they change, the NHL is what it is and part of the issue is that there have been so many advancements in other areas of the game that the NHL can no longer be the free-flowing game of the 1980s.

Technology has changed the way that coaches coach. With the way technology is nowadays they are able to prepare tactics to change the way that they play certain teams or at least figure out how they can impose their team's style of play on anyone and that is a big difference from earlier times. It is not the goalies' faults that their coaches are suddenly able to game plan better then ever before. What has happened is that the NHL has been changed by technology in such a way that any rule changes they make can and will be counteracted or worked around in a season or two. Always.

That is why it is a bad idea to come up with a rule like "make the nets bigger" because the goalies will perfect their craft in a new net. Want to change interference? Teams will find a way to work around that. The NHL is beyond the point of being able to change rules to increase scoring for good because teams adapt quickly to the changes. What can be done to make NHL games more watchable, even if they are low-scoring?

Bring Back the Two-Minute Power-Play

Back in the 1950s the NHL decided that the Montreal Canadiens were too good at scoring on the power-play and to change that they had to make the rule be "two minutes or less" instead of "as many goals as you can score in two minutes." Although teams would surely adapt to having to kill a full two minute power-play in short order, think of the amount of end of the penalty-kill breakaways we would get and how much fun that could be. Remember: innovations will be counteracted by coaches pretty quickly so improving the watchability should be the main goal of the NHL.

Take Away the Trapezoid

Goalies playing the puck is fun so why not make it so they can play the puck more and get themselves into more trouble to the point where coaches will put shock collars on their goalies and shock them from the bench when they go to leave the net. Wouldn't that be fun? In all honesty, taking away the trapezoid would force teams to carry the puck in more unless they want the opposing goalie playing it, which could lead to more skilled players being on teams because not too many present-day fourth liners would be good at not carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Requiring more skill could lead to more scoring in the long run.

Call Penalties

A penalty is a penalty is a penalty. The NHL forgets this when: it is convenient for them, one team is in the lead, they allow interference "just because" amongst other things. Interference is interference. Calling it whenever it happens would open up the game and it would force coaches and players to adjust to the rule changes by learning how to defend without interfering on an opponent. Tough luck if you cannot figure that one out. There is also the whole thing of leading teams having a harder time drawing penalties. I do not have any proof that leading teams have a harder time drawing penalties, but it sure feels like it. That may be because score-effects are a real thing and more often than not leading teams start "eating it" at some point and are forced into taking more penalties because they have the puck less. And referees cannot decide when the rule book is applied in a game and when it is not. A penalty is a penalty is a penalty.

Enact Long Changes for the Entire Game

Pension Plan Puppets person DragLikePull recently suggested this as a way to get more offence into the game and it makes sense because coaches have not yet solved the whole long change thing as it has been in the game for so long says that they might still struggle to solve it if they have to deal with it for all three periods. Get on it, NHL!

Find New Coaches

This really is not a long-term fix, but it would be good if the NHL opened up its coaching ranks to outsiders of the old boys club and watched to see what innovations they come in with. Maybe it is three forwards in overtime, maybe it is constantly evolving the construct of the team, maybe it is a new system that is hard to counteract, maybe it is having no system at all. Whatever they bring could be a new perspective on the old NHL and could cause a ripple effect across the NHL because the NHL is a copycat league and if a team with newfangled ideas finds success, more teams could copy that fun style of play.

These are some ideas that the NHL can implement and some that are outlandish and silly while others are meant to be completely serious. It is highly possible that the NHL itself has tinkered with the game so much and with the addition of basic video technology to scouting that scoring will never be what it once was, but that does not mean that hockey's watchability factor should be diminished. Scoring is not what makes hockey fun to watch, skill is. By shifting the emphasis to minor changes that emphasize the skill element of hockey. Changing the rules around goalies will not help increase scoring for an extended period of time and it will certainly not make hockey more watchable. Instead, changing simple rules and opening up the old boys coaching club to admit new-age thinkers who might have some ideas of how to coach hockey.

Knowing the NHL, they will continue to look at goaltending as a way to increase scoring instead of looking at actual changes to the game that they could make to help make NHL hockey easier to watch.