What about the good side of it all?

It’s time to talk about the good side of this “new NHL” and I would say that even though there are negatives, there is just as much, if not more, positives.

So far we have discussed the sometimes “over-exagerated” rule enforcing by the refs, the diving, the shootouts, etc.. But no matter how you look at it, with ratings and overall attendance up, there must be something good that’s happening.

First of all I’m sure many of you noticed, as I have, that the duration of a game is smaller which is not necessarily a bad thing. To me it means that the play is faster and more exciting. Players skate from one end to the other instead of being bottled up in the neutral zone for 10 minutes at a time. When both teams used to play trap hockey or some other whacked defensive system, they just played sketchy in the neutral zone and cause so many offsides or icings which would result in whistles blown and multiple, annoying and slow faceoffs. Sometimes games would extend into the 2 1/2+ hour range while now they typically end after 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Another nice thing is the abolition of two line passes which creates many more exciting turnovers and also making it impossible for a team to practice the trap. How many times did any of you ask youselves: “that would have been a good 2 on 1 if only he was outside the blueline”?

Momentum shifts, many of them. Yes there are many penalties and yes a lot of them are predictable but the outcome of ANY penalty is NOT. Shorthanded opportunities come around more often. Also, going into the 3rd period with a two goal lead is not longer a sure thing. Not that it was in the past but if you were a trap or clutching/grabbing team, you were 20 minutes away from a win. The way it is now, you have 20 minutes to score more goals and make sure you win.

Dump and chase play is down for the simple fact that players are opting to just head right into the zone knowing that if they’re held or hooked, there will be a call so this makes it easier for teams to establish an offensive zone cycle. However, there is a new aspect to dumping the puck due to my next point…

The limitation of a goalies’ play behind the net. When a team dumps the puck in the zone, they’ll do it so it passes the goal line but not reach the goalies’ restricted zone. I’ve seen a lot of teams this year just dump the puck straight in on the far board instead of rolling it around to the other side or simply “lob” it over the defenseman for the puck to land in the “no goalie zone”, forecheck positioning then resumes the same way as before.

The way it was in the past, any goalie with a minimum of stickhandling skill would just stop the puck behind the net wherever it was and simply pass it to his closest defenceman who would just chip it out off the boards for another 10 minutes of horrible neutral zone play along with a half-hour of whistles.

I do not disagree with the fact that some things do need to change. Perhaps they are in the process of changing. Perhaps the refs are in the same kind of “adjustment” period as the players are. Nonetheless, I just felt it was important to point out some things that make the games more interesting to watch. There is an effect of suspense I feel every game I watch that I just did not feel in the past.

I am a habs fan for life and I am very pleased with their season debut but I do not watch only the Habs. With NHL center ice, I catch many games. Western conference games too. Vancouver, Colorado and yes my 2nd favorite team, the New York Rangers (Sather is GOD). It should be understood that my opinions are not a result of a biased view on my team’s good start but a view as to what I’ve seen so far this year, on different levels.

I want to know what you people “like” about the new NHL. Enough talking about all the bad stuff.