Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More Space Behind Smaller Nets Creates a Little More Offense

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More Space Behind Smaller Nets Creates a Little More Offense

Article excerpt

It's not a combination you usually see on the score sheet.

P. Martin (1) -- B. Orpik (1), S. Crosby (2).

Center Sidney Crosby gets plenty of assists, but the Penguins shutdown defensive pairing of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik are relied on to prevent goals, not generate them.

But, in the second period of a 5-2 victory a week ago against the Carolina Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center, Orpik drove a slap shot from the left half wall at the net. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward made the save and deflected the puck behind the cage, where it took a bounce off the end boards and deflected to the right faceoff circle where Martin was able to backhand it into the goal.

While the goal hardly was by design, it was a scoring play that might not have happened in past NHL seasons.

Hoping to create more offense league-wide, the NHL this season reshaped the nets. While the goal mouth remains 4-feet-by-6-feet, the depth of the nets are 4 inches shallower than before. Besides allowing extra space between the cage and the boards, the newer nets also have opened up more angles for pucks to hit off the end boards.

"The angle it came out ... it came out a little wider," Martin said. "Maybe that wouldn't have been affected, but it would have been close."

"There's better angles and there's less iron there that's going to hit when the puck comes out," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There are going to be pucks that get out more because of less net there."

A more immediate concern for defenseman will be defending opponents behind their nets, especially with wraparound attempts. The new cages don't "bubble" out at the bottom as much and offer a more direct route for attacking players to attempt wraparound shots.

"If you're chasing a guy and he's using the net as a pick, or if you're the net-front [defenseman]," Orpik said, "you've just got to get your stick to the post [the attacking forward] is trying to wraparound quicker."

There also is more room for offensive players behind the nets, Martin said. …

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