Over the past two days, the NHL tested some minor and radical rule changes that could possibly be implemented for the upcoming season if so chosen to be by the league. Some of these changes are very plausible and could be very likely come October and some are simply, for lack of a better word, ludicrous.
However there are a key few of them that could greatly impact the Nashville Predators in both good and bad ways:
Verification Line – POSITIVE - This is just a no-brainer on all ends of the spectrum. Too many times this past season did Nashville have goal/no-goal that went under review for whatever the situation was. This verification line will help speed up these reviews and eliminate true speculation by fans, commentators, broadcasters, etc, as to whether or not the questioned play was a goal or not.
Remove Trapezoid – NEGATIVE – Now, before everyone throws their pitchforks at me, please hear me out. OVERALL, I think it would be VERY WISE to remove the trapezoid behind the goal, as it never was a good idea in the first place to put this in. It was just one of the many changes that was made in the new post-lockout era.
However, that being said, I feel like this will hamper the Predators if the trapezoid is removed. Pekka Rinne likes to be daring and leave his net on multiple occasions throughout the game to go behind the goal, stop/collect the puck, and distribute it as necessary. During this process though, he’s been burned or almost burned many times by opposing players (the most GLARING instances of this are Games 3 and 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs against Chicago).
I’m not too confident on Rinne’s ability to go behind the net and I’ve heard multiple times from Predators fans that Rinne needs to “stay in his net”. Eliminating the trapezoid will give goalies around the league tons more open space and freedom behind the net, an ability that I think will definitely hamper the Predators.
Overtime Variations – NEGATIVE – The rule change being looked at here is three-fold:
1) Four minutes of 4-on-4 hockey followed by 3 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey
2) Switching ends after the third period and a five minute 4-on-4 extra frame
3) Switching ends for four minutes of 4-on-4 followed by three minutes of 3-on-3
Last season, Nashville went 2-7 in the extra frame before the shootout. I can’t quite tell you exactly what the major difference was last year as opposed to the 2010 season where the Predators went a perfect 6-0 in the extra frame, however Nashville would most likely NOT want to risk any extended overtime hockey until they produce a better OT record.
While I believe the 3-on-3 hockey would be extremely entertaining and would definitely produce a winner before the time expired, I’m not sure if Nashville would be on the winning end more times than the losing end of that
Shootout Variation (Shootout PRECEDING Sudden-Death OT) – POSITIVE - I know deep down inside that this particular rule may never see the light of day other than at the annual Research and Development camps, however if this came to be, it could GREATLY impact the Predators in the extra session.
Nashville has an all-world goaltender in Pekka Rinne who has a 12-7 all time record in shootout’s. Not to mention his .775 Save% over the last two years in Shootouts, which is .793% playing at the Bridgestone Arena (meaning nearly 4 out of every 5 shooters will be stopped, based on that math).
Would Nashville prefer a shootout to an overtime period? Last year? Absolutely. With that level of trust in their goaltending, it’s no wonder that this could be such a huge benefit to the Predators if this crazy rule were to ever make it to the league rulebook.
The only downfall of this would be to ponder whether or not this particular change would in fact alter the basis on if shootout wins would count towards tie-breaking procedures. One would think if THIS particular change ever did happen, it would either reverse or nullify that particular means of tie-breaking for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Past these four rules, I have a personal change I think the NHL should invest in – mic’d up players/coaches/referees.
Although on-ice officials communications (via wireless devices) was tested during the R&D camp, something that has crossed my mind multiple times throughout the course of a game is to know exactly what a player said to another player/what a coach says to a referee/or what is said between the referees to the players.
NASCAR monetizes this process with their “Trackpass” (which you can see the details about here). If the NHL ever thought about trying to make a little more money on their product, than this could be a fantastic idea.
Imagine one/two players a game being mic’d up (or all players if something could be developed for all players to wear that wouldn’t impede their playing ability) along with the coaches/referees and being able to listen to all of those “hidden” conversations that fans and media members could only dream of finding out exactly what was said.
HBO’s 24/7 series does a bang-up job of this giving fans a taste of what it was like to hear first-hand what coaches/players/refs sometimes say throughout a game. Imagine if you could hear every game from every team?
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