The comments made by Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock regarding increasing the size of nets to create a boost in scoring still has people talking.
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby weighed in on the issue last week, saying the NHL should look at again shrinking goalie equipment in order to increase scoring. Crosby’s teammate, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, agreed there were ways to shrink the size of equipment even more. Now you can add another vote to shrinking equipment, as Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said he’d rather see goaltending equipment downsized than the nets increase in size.
“(Bigger nets), to me, is such an extreme measure to increase scoring that it would have to be the third or fourth of several steps, in my opinion,” Burke told Sportsnet. “Goaltender equipment may be looked at first. I don’t think we need a high scoring number in the game to generate interest. I think we need scoring chances.”
Burke said that games are more exciting when there are opportunities that get fans to the edge of their seat “a half-dozen times a period.” But it’s more than the final scores and fan excitement that bigger nets would alter, Burke says, as it would have an impact on the historical side of the game.
“You’re re-writing the record books if you change the size of the nets,” Burke said. “Basically, you have to figure out some way to figure out how these new goals are measured against the old record book.”
Through 215 games, the NHL is currently experiencing its lowest goals per game since the 1923-24 era — the original dead-puck era. On average, teams are mustering 2.66 goals per game, according to Hockey-Reference.com. Goaltenders are currently posting their lowest goals-against average since the 2003-04 season, the campaign which preceded the 2004-05 lockout and the rule changes which saw the end of the clutch and grab era.
Some have pointed to one major issue being the lack of penalty calls as a reason for the decrease in scoring. In 2014-15, the league average for power play opportunities per game was 3.06, which is the lowest it has been since the data began being tracked in 1963-64. Post-lockout, teams averaged 5.85 chances with the extra man per game. This campaign, teams are currently averaging 3.28 per contest.