By James Leppert
Over the summer, you may have heard about some of the changes the league has made going into the 2013-2014 season. A few teams were swapped around, doing away with the old Atlantic Division that Henrik and the New York Rangers were used to competing in, the playoff format changed as a result, and hybrid icing was added to the rule book.
Another change that may be a bit harder to notice is that the goalie pads were reduced in size, something that the league is hoping will increase the scoring. The previous rule stated that the pad length between the center of the goaltender’s knee and his pelvis cannot exceed 55 percent of that distance. Now, that limit has been shifted down to 45 percent – a distance that comes in at roughly 2-inch change for some goalies.
How does this effect Henrik Lundqvist, as he comes off of a season where he posted a .934 save percentage and once again was a nominee for the Vezina Trophy? “I’m trying to get used to it,” he said. “It’s definitely a big difference.”
The new rule, along with a net that is shallower by 4 inches, is all done for the sake of scoring. With goalies like Henrik adjusting, that could be the end result. He added that he worked a lot during the offseason with the new pads and that while he feels quicker, “I feel like I’m covering less area,” he added.
When the size of your pads shrinks, less area is covered and a slight change in style is usually the result. Henrik was quick to point to a prior NHL goalie pad regulation change, back in the 2003-2004 season, where goalies were able to adapt to the new size and maintain their numbers. Finishing with the fact that he hopes that could happen yet again.
Teammate Derek Stepan, who has had a lot of practice shooting against Henrik, said of the situation, “I don’t think shortening the pads is going to change anything. You’re still going to be looking at not very much of the net.”