One of the numerous ways casual observers and mental lightweights have decided is the perfect way to make the scoring easier in the NHL is to reduce the size and protectiveness of goalie equipment. Given all the safety concerns in professional sports, this just seems like a train-wreck waiting to happen.
Today’s idea is a slightly different application of physics. From the NHL rulebook:
The puck shall be made of vulcanized rubber, or other approved material, one inch (1”) thick and three inches (3”) in diameter and shall weigh between five and one-half ounces (51/2” oz.) and six ounces (6 oz.). All pucks used in competition must be approved by the League.
This is the puck size used up and down the hockey ranks in North America. Kids use it, and your favorite NHL star probably has a couple hundred at home for shooting at their favorite wall, net or old dryer. As athletic as today’s goaltenders are, I suspect changing pad sizes and thickness would do little to increase goal scoring and might even decrease it as net minders would have greater freedom of movement.
But what if the NHL went with a puck that wasn’t the size we’re all used to? With all the technological changes to equipment in the last century of play, why are they still using the same old puck? Making the puck smaller and heavier would likely produce more goals than making changes to pads.
If the size of the puck is dropped from three inches around to 2.75 inches it will fit through more gaps in pads. The positioning of goaltenders to cover the post, close their five hole and maintain a snappy glove will become paramount. Yes the surface area of the puck does help it stay flat, but that’s why the change in weight would be the second element.
By inserting a small weight at the center of the puck you can counteract the lost mass, and increase it. Rubber isn’t the densest material in the world, and it fairly easy to mold around other materials. How far up you want to go with the puck weight will tell you what material to use. Bronze, ceramic, or nickel are all dense materials and a small disc or ball shape in the the middle of the puck would add the mass handily, but other materials are options.
With the loss of surface area, and the increase in weight pucks will have greater inertia. This means goalies with leaky pads will have to work harder. Pucks that hit the crossbar are a bit more likely to land in the net or even bounce off the goaltender and drop. There will probably be a slight drop in pucks that go just over the net as well. The lowered surface area would mean it had less ability to keep air under it, and longer shots from the tops of the circles out to the points would be more likely to stay at or below crossbar height.