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Dave Naylor

TSN Analyst and Host


So the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions in what was a tight six-game series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

This series had lots of things going for it - two great-skating teams, some of the biggest names in the sport and close games night-in and night-out.

But it also had a shortage of something that would have made it a lot more interesting and memorable...goals.

The Stanley Cup Final has just 23 of them - or 3.83 per game. Four of the six games had three or fewer. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos – three of the best players on the planet - combined for just two goals. By any objective standard, that's not enough for your showcase event.

During the playoffs, games averaged five goals a game which is slightly down from the 5.3 averaged during this past regular season.

Some people think that's enough. But how come everyone was celebrating when scoring was up coming out the great one-year lockout and rising about six goals per game?

Hockey has already taken out the red line and tried to remove obstruction and shrunken goalie pads. It's time for the game to adapt the most logical and simple solution to the downward trend in goal scoring, the one that wouldn't change the game in any fundamental way other than producing more goals. The one no coaching tactic or refereeing standard could neutralize. And it's also the one most people react to instinctively as an absolute non-starter. 

I'm talking about bigger nets. 

We're not talking about soccer-style nets or those with big curvy cross bars. 

We're talking about nets that would be virtually indistinguishable from traditional nets with the naked eye. We're talking about moving each of the posts one half inch in each direction apart.
What would be the result of making the width of a net six feet and one inch instead of just six feet? Well, you know how every game there's that shot (or two or three) that clangs off the post and bounces out? Well, with an inch more of width in the nets, a good portion of those would be goals.

How else would the game change? Not much at all. The one and only result would be more goals.
The opposition to bigger nets has always been based on the flawed notion of consistency with the past. And that makes no sense when you consider that nearly every other thing about the game of hockey has changed during the past 50 years - from the skates and equipment they wear, to the sticks they use, to the addition of the trapezoid and removal of the red line, to the tactics that are employed to the rules that decide games. Puck-over-glass, anyone?

In fact, it seems like the size of the nets is the only thing that hasn't changed. And that right there is the problem.