Through 35 NHL games this season, goal scoring is up to an average of 6.32 goals per game, which is nearly half a goal more than was averaged in 2017-18.
That total will likely come down — it’s not unusual for the NHL season to start off with an uptick in goals, but coaches usually correct this course by clamping down through defence as the season goes on.
But the longer this continues, the more we’ll likely hear about the size of goalie equipment. Last season the NHL started streamlining the size of pants in February and the clamp down on oversized equipment is continuing this season, with chest protectors now in the crosshairs.
The measurements have shrunk, but basically the NHL wants goalies to wear equipment that is tight to the body and not exaggerated to take up more room in the net.
“The chest and arm protector worn by each goalkeeper must be anatomically proportional and size-specific based on the individual physical characteristics of that goalkeeper,” reads Rule 11.3.
Flyers goalie Brian Elliott spoke about the effect the new equipment has had on his body so far.
“I’ve already sent a couple emails to Kay Whitmore,” Elliott told the Philadelphia Courier-Post, referring to the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations who signs off on goalie equipment changes. “I’m getting bruised like crazy on my arms. I think that’s the biggest issue, they take away padding in the arms. It seems like every shot that you take that’s not clean on your blocker or in your glove, it’s leaving a mark.”
For the record, Elliott has started two games for the Flyers and has a 1-1-0 record. He’s made 53 saves on 59 shots for an .898 save percentage. He earned a 5-2 win over Vegas to open the season, then dropped a 5-2 decision to Colorado on Saturday.
“They wanted more ‘form fitting,’ but when you have more form fitting there’s no give,” Elliott continued. “There’s no air between you and your pads, so the puck is hitting your pad and at the same time it’s hitting your bones and your flesh so there’s no cushion. It’s just straight shots to your arms and I don’t agree with it.”
Interestingly enough, Flyers GM Ron Hextall — a former goalie himself — told the Courier-Post that streamlining the goalie equipment was a far better option than expanding the size of the nets.
“The more net you can see, the better,” he said.
Through the very early part of the season, the league’s average save percentage is .905, which is a seven-point drop from where last season finished.