Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock wants bigger nets

mike babcock bigger nets nhl

The NHL’s goal-scoring problem in 2015-16 goes beyond the anecdotal cases of Sidney Crosby’s most sluggish career start or Jakub Voracek’s 0-for-50 shooting “accuracy” or the Anaheim Ducks.

Through the first 180 games of the season, an average of just 2.69 goals have been scored per contest, according to hockey-reference.com. We’re on pace for the fewest goals since the 2.57 per game scored in 2003-04, when clutching and grabbing reached its peak and a lockout forced a list of rule changes to favour the shooter.

Especially concerning is that one of this year’s new rules, 3-on-3 overtime, was implemented to increase in-game goals while another, the coach’s challenge (the mechanics of which could soon change), is subtracting them. According to the Toronto Maple Leafs coach, Mike Babcock the solution is simple:

It’s impossible to score. All you gotta do is a math equation. You go to 1980 when the puck went in the net [at a nearly four-goals-a-game pace]. You look at the average size of the goalies in the net and you look at the net. The net's too small for the size of the goalies, period.

Goaltenders, the equipment they wear and the techniques they've practised have all grown in the last 35 years. The net they protect has remained the same. The average save percentage for an NHL goalie has been better than .910 for seven years running (currently .914), a steady climb from the .873 mark in 1983-84, when the statistic was first tracked.

Goaltenders' teched-out equipment is now restricted by height and width, but Grant Fuhr — who won the 1988 Vezina with a .881 save percentage — argues that the NHL should restrict its weight instead:

Guys are wearing it bigger because it’s so much lighter. If it was heavier, they’d shrink the equipment. For all the rules they’re trying to put in on equipment measurements? Put a weight limit on it. That’ll shrink it quickly.

What do you think is the best solution to increase goal scoring in the NHL?

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