The other day, the NHL announced ten rule changes, nine of which will be implemented for the start of the season, and a tenth that will be experimented with in the preseason and then voted on by the NHL and NHLPA. These changes are designed to make the game fairer and more offensive, along with a crackdown on some rule breaking. For those of you that have not read up on the rule changes, here is a real quick summary:
1. Expanded Video Review for the officials in Toronto when deciding a goal.
2. A dry sweep of the ice before overtime, along with a changing of ends so that each team has a long change during the overtime period.
3. Players will not be able to use a spin move on a penalty shot or shootout.
4. Diving will result in fines for the player, and possibly coach as well.
5. When a player dives at an opponent carrying the puck and trips him, a penalty will be called regardless if that player touched the puck first or not.
6. A skater initially taking a faceoff in the defending zone will be forced to take the faceoff. He cannot purposely go into the faceoff to get kicked out, thus buying his team more time to rest. If he delays the game, a bench minor will be called.
7. The trapezoid has been expanded by two feet on either side.
8. The league increased the number of penalties that will result in a game misconduct if committed twice in one game. Along with boarding and checking from behind, there is now also clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending.
9. Now if the attacking team in the offensive zone is responsible for the puck going out of play, the faceoff will still remain in the offensive zone.
10. This is an experimental rule for the preseason, but the NHL will expand the hash marks that separate teams on faceoffs from 3 feet to 5 feet, 7 inches. The hope here is to increase scoring chances on faceoff wins in the offensive zone. This rule will be voted on at the end of preseason.
Overall, I like what the NHL is doing here. They are attempting to generate more offense in a game that has seen a somewhat steady decline in goals per game since the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. They are also looking to crack down on diving and penalties that can cause injuries, which is definitely a positive. And, they are also looking to make sure that they get all goal calls correct by expanding the powers of officials in Toronto. There is not too much to complain about here.
The question that I had, after reading these, is how would the rules affect the New Jersey Devils specifically? Would these rules benefit the way our favorite team likes to play hockey, or would it force Peter DeBoer to adjust his overall strategy for games? Furthermore, do these rules provide any benefits to specific players on the team, given the way that they like to play? Or, do these rules really not mean much for the Devils at all? To answer these questions, I figured that we should look at each rule one at a time to see what can be determined.
The Devil's Rules
1. The first rule provides expanded video replay for the officials in Toronto. They want to get every goal call correct if possible. While this does not seem like it would affect NJ much, digging deeper I actually think that it does to a degree. The Devils are usually desperate to score some goals, while the team's defense and goaltender usually do a good job of preventing goals. NHL.com came out with an article discussing how these rules could increase scoring in the NHL this season. When referring to this rule change specifically, the article mentioned how there will now be a "broader discretion" for kicked-in goals. This could be a good thing. While kicked-in goals are largely luck based, just the fact that more of them will be allowed could give the Devils more goals, which is something that is desperately needed. I know that I am grasping at straws here a little bit, but I think that this could be a benefit to the Devils.
2. The second rule provides for a change of ends for overtime, as well as a dry sweep of the ice. This is most definitely a benefit for our favorite team. The Devils do not want any games to get to a shootout, and this rule is attempting to do just that by forcing teams to have a long change in the overtime period. The long change will certainly lead to more goals in overtime, thus reducing the number of games that go to shootout. The Devils were 9-5 in the overtime period last season, so they have proven that they can score goals prior to the shootout. Let's hope that this rule means more post-regulation wins for NJ.
3. The third rule now disallows spin moves for shootouts or penalty shots. I would go out on a limb and say that this is a good thing because I do not see any current devils attempting a spin move, while there are certainly other players in the league that could use it against Cory Schneider. While of minimal impact to NJ overall, this certainly does not hurt (on a side note, they are cool to watch, so I guess that is the one negative point about banning them).
4. The fourth rule now hits players with fines for diving, and if they do it enough, the coach will be fined as well. A chart of how exactly players and coaches will be fined can be found here. I do not believe I speak for myself when I say that diving is universally hated by those who watch hockey. Therefore, regardless of any impact to the Devils, this is a good idea.
5. The fifth rule will increase the number of tripping penalties called, as a player who dives at another will be called for the penalty, even if the puck is touched first. Last season, the Devils were ranked fourth in the league in terms of number of tripping penalties called. They had 52 to be exact. That is not very good. Considering that this rule will only increase the number of tripping penalties called, that number may increase this season.
6. The sixth rule requires a player in the defending zone who goes to take a faceoff to actually take the faceoff. He cannot be there just to get kicked out, thus allowing his team to rest more. This extra rest time can be big on icing calls. If that player does try to delay the faceoff, his team will get a bench minor. I like the idea of this rule, as it makes icing more of a detriment. Icing slows up the game already, so less of them would be better. I do not believe this rule really hurts or helps the Devils in either way, but it should make for better viewing.
7. The seventh rule expands the trapezoid. Now that Martin Brodeur is no longer a devil, the league decides to give goalies more room to maneuver behind the net. As a Devils fan, that is annoying...
8. The eighth rule increases the number of penalties that result in game misconducts if committed multiple times per game. New Jersey was one of the least penalized teams in the NHL last season, with 273 minor penalties. If the team can continue to take fewer penalties, then this rule is good for the Devils.
9. The ninth rule keeps the puck in the offensive zone even when the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play. This is designed to generate more offense. And since the Devils need more offense (and have a great goalie on the backend to defend against this), this is a positive.
10. The experimental rule will separate teams more on faceoffs, so that attacking teams that win the draw will have better opportunities for shots. Again, this is designed to increase offensive production. Just like with number 9, the Devils need offense, so this has to be looked at as a positive for our favorite team. Still, let's see how it looks in preseason before coming to more concrete conclusions.
In the end, I think that the rule changes definitely do not hurt the New Jersey Devils. None of the rules really force the team or the players to change their style of hockey. In fact, I think that some of the rules can really benefit this club. Specifically, the change in overtime rules is a great benefit, as the Devils need to avoid shootouts at all costs. Most of the other rules may only have a minimal effect on the Devils this season, but any potential positive effects that the team can gain from them would be greatly beneficial. This team was only a few wins away from the playoffs last season, and any help to gain those wins for this season would be excellent.
Now that you have heard my opinion, what do you think? Do you like these rule changes, or do some of the new rules bother you? How do you think these new rules will affect our favorite team? Do they give the Devils a better chance to make the playoffs, or worse? Or does it not matter? Please leave your comments below, and thank you for reading.