How will pad, net changes impact goalies?

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How will pad, net changes impact goalies?

There are two changes this season in the goal crease that will affect the goaltender, and both are changes to equipment.
 
First, goalie pads have been reduced from 11 inches above the center of the knee to nine inches. Less pad means more shooting room and a higher percentage to score.
 
The second change comes to the net itself. Although the overall dimensions of the net have not changed, the netting itself is now four inches shallower, allowing more room for players to maneuver behind the net.
 
If you go back to the 1960s when the net had two large circular bases, you can clearly see a difference in the space players now have to move around behind it.
 
This will be veteran goalie Ray Emery’s 10th season in the NHL, so he’s accustomed to changes in the crease and to his equipment.
 
Regarding the nets, Emery didn’t see it as problematic.
 
“You need to get your butt in there and move around and see if you are gonna hit the back bar or how your feet go in the net,” Emery said. “I think it’s good. There will be more room behind the net to generate plays around the net.
 
“Especially, with this team. We’ve got guys who can wheel and deal. It works as long as we figure out how to stop the other team.”
 
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had great difficulty with shots directly in front of him when the play itself developed behind the net.
 
“I guess that is what [the league is] trying to encourage,” Emery said. “Maybe there will be more plays generated from back there. We’ll see how it works. I got a system I play from back there. I’ll rely on that and maybe tweak it a bit when I figure out the new nets.”
 
As for losing two inches on his pads, Emery didn’t think that was a big deal, either. The last time the league changed pads was prior to the 2010-11 season.
 
“Pad size? Not really,” he said. “I got an inch taken off mine. As a goalie, you want to cover as much net, but it feels kind of good. You can move a bit. I’m not rubbing. You get used to it. You stay a bit tighter and don’t open up as much.”
 
Emery said he often makes adjustments to his pads even when the league doesn’t mandate them.
 
“I’m always kind of changing things on my pads every year,” he said. “There’s a few adaptations I have to make. When I tweak something to get more coverage a certain way, I have to get used to that. This is vice-versa. I have to get used to less coverage.”

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."