In addition to downsizing goaltending equipment and mandating more offensive-zone faceoffs, particularly on the power play, the NHL is emphasizing yet another obstruction-type crackdown this season.
“The new rules are going to be even more stringent on defending in the defensive zone,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday after the club completed its second day of training camp. “Anything with the free hand — before, players were allowed to put that stick in there. Any type of movement with that stick and arm to stop progression of a player, they’re going to be very, very strict on it.
“They don’t want that ability to pin (along the boards), and hold people on the wall. They want that freedom. There will be very little pinning. There will be free hands, but there won’t be grappling.”
As opposed to favoring speed-type players, the rules interpretation might give more freedom for bigger, stronger players to work their magic in the corners and behind the net.It'll be interesting to see how this affects the play of the John Anderson-era Atlanta Thrashers. Anderson is adamant about playing a more offensive style, and we happen to have one of the league's premier goal-scorers (one of only three players to score more than fifty goals last season; Mirtle says that goals trended way down last year, probably the reason for this most recent shake-up), so this could lead to even more tallies for the Czar. On the downside, Anderson's beloved mongoosing tactics might be called out occasionally: "Any type of movement with that stick and arm to stop progression of a player, they’re going to be very, very strict on it."
I think the impediment to rampant goal-scoring these days has less to do with New Jersey Devils-style neutral zone trapping, or any defensive tactics, than with the fact that there are a lot of super-talented goalies around. Even the non-elite goaltenders are better than average goal-tenders used to be. Razor Catch Prey once said that we're living in a "golden age of goalies." I see no reason to disagree.
Of course it says quite a lot about the Czar that he can score so many goals in this goalie golden age. And the fact that Jarome Iginla could score 50 goals in last year's Western Conference really says something.
The way I see it, John Anderson' up-tempo style of play + new rules' giving big forwards more scoring chances + the Czar= lots and lots and lots of goals. My bold prediction is that Kovy tops his career record of 52 this year.