September 12, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-09-12

More on the NHL's latest rule changes, over/under season point totals and Niederreiter's new contract…

 

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The big NHL news yesterday was the rule changes that were made official.

 

A quick rundown of the highlights for you:

 

1. Fines for diving by repeat offenders. Not sure if the player will have to get whistled for the dive by a referee for it to count against their record or if the NHL can review the tape and make a decision on it after the fact.

 

The NBA has a similar process for "flopping" and they do everything by review after the fact. I don't know that it's curbed "flopping" but it definitely brings more attention to the floppers as it is announced every time a player is fined for it.

 

I also wonder how the NHL is going to deal with the situations where players were called for diving but also happened to have been obstructed at the same time. The good old offsetting minor penalty situation that I've yet to hear anyone say anything positive about. I can only imagine the NHL will bungle this.

 

One thing I know for sure; guys like Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown (to name a couple) are going to be lighter in the wallet this season.

 

2. The definition of kicking is now a lot more vague and open to interpretation. I can see how some would find this a bad thing. Me, I like it. There's no way the NHL finds a way to make this lead to less goals. I mean, it's totally possible but I think the intent is to make it easier for them to allow for more scoring, which I'm definitely on board with even if skate goals are greasy.

 

3. Tripping penalties will be called when a player dives and takes out the opponent even if he gets the puck first. I like this change. The whole "puck first" argument never made sense to me. Just because you got the puck first gives you free reign to dive at my feet? It's a safety issue. You can't have players diving at each other while wearing knives on their feet even if there is no malicious intent.

 

4. The "spin-o-rama" has been banned from the shootout. I'm with Luongo on this one.

 

But we all know the shootout is here to stay. Maybe this is the year I just accept it and move on. Not sure yet if I'll be able to. After all, there are still some games worth three points and other games worth two. I suppose those issues are separate but they are fairly connected in my mind.

 

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One of the areas where the whole three-point game vs. two-point game is an issue is with projecting the standings. Yesterday I mentioned that the over/under point totals for NHL teams came out. It's really tough to project point totals when you have no clue how many overtime games a team might play, not to mention how many will be decided by a shootout.

 

Consider the New Jersey Devils who went 0-13 in the shootout last year and 2-7 the year before that. They just missed out on the playoffs both years. The year before that though? 12-4, making the playoffs and eventually the Stanley Cup Final.

 

I'm not saying that shootout success is total luck. You definitely need to have skill and certain players do perform way better in the competition but there's enough luck and a small enough sample size that I really don't think it's a good way to determine standings. This is especially a problem as the league becomes lower scoring leading to more three-point games.

 

For the purposes of betting I did some preliminary research on team point totals since we moved to the current point system in 2005-06. Sure enough league-wide point totals have showed an inverse relationship with league goal scoring. As scoring has gone down, the number of points recorded by teams has gone up because of increased overtime games. Below is a table showing the total number of points by teams league-wide since 2005-06 (not counting the lockout shortened 2013 season):

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