It’s tough to notice the difference in the nets the NHL will use this season at first. They aren’t dramatic changes, the opening of the goal mouth hasn’t been altered, but the tweaks are just enough to change a few game situations and require players grow accustomed to the adjustments.
The bottom depth of the net is now four inches shallower. The radius on the curved sides is also smaller by four inches, creating new angles on the side of the net that take up less space than its predecessor.
“Not the shallow part, [but] the angle that it is you can definitely notice,” Braden Holtby said. “There are a few strange bounces but they’re only strange right now because we’re not used to it. Give us a couple weeks with the new nets and they’ll be normal bounces. So we’ll adapt to it.”
Here’s a graphic of the new nets from the NHL:
Here are some details on the new goal frame that will be used during the 2013-14 NHL season. pic.twitter.com/uYzjRrZyUO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 13, 2013
Saturday night’s preseason opener marked the first time the Capitals played with the new nets and Coach Adam Oates noted that there were a few plays around the cage that players seemed unsure of. Subtle changes like how the puck will bounce off the side of the net, and whether it would carom off the net on certain types of dump-ins will impact how players and goaltenders prepare and react to any given play.
The new dimensions were also intended to create more space behind the net – better known as Gretzky’s office – leaving additional room for skilled playmakers to handle the puck, create plays and speed up wraparounds.
The wraps are where the difference may stand out the most. Winnipeg prospect Scott Kosmachuk scored a wraparound goal Saturday night against Braden Holtby in the Capitals’ preseason opener.
Holtby didn’t blame the new net configurations for the goal, though, rather a change in strategy that isn’t quite second nature.
“I think it was more we’ve been working on a different way to play that a situation like that and I kind of got between the way I used to and the way I’m going to play it now,” Holtby said. “I just got there, just didn’t get a good enough push I wasn’t on my left toe enough to get a push over there and get my full leg on the ice.”
Philipp Grubauer, who played the second half of Saturday’s game, said he didn’t see anything about the new nets that would change his approach.
“I noticed it yeah but I don’t think it made any big difference for me,” Grubauer said. “Wraparounds are a little bit quicker, I noticed that but it’s pretty much it. I don’t think it’s a big difference.”
The new nets have arrived at Verizon Center but the Capitals don’t have them at KCI yet. Obviously, they want time to assimilate to the changes but for the most part players don’t expect it to be anything they can’t get used to on the fly. Some didn’t even notice until they were told about it or, in Karl Alzner’s case, saw it on the video board at Yardmen Arena.
“I didn’t really know that it was that way until they put it on the jumbotron at the beginning. I didn’t really find a difference,” Alzner said. “I saw Greenie try to hug the net in warm-up doing a wrap and he hit the net. I know it threw him off a little bit, but I didn’t personally notice a difference.”
>> The Capitals trimmed their training camp roster a bit more Sunday, releasing draft picks defensemen Garrett Haar, Jaynen Rissling, Madison Bowey and Tyler Lewington to their junior teams. They also released forwards Boston Leier, Chance Braid and goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon, who were all free agent invitees.
Later on Sunday, Washington announced it had released nine additional players. They were: goaltenders Brandon Anderson and Riley Gill, forwards Jamie Johnson, Domenic Monardo, T.J. Syner, Derek Whitmore and defensemen Julien Brouillette, Brett Flemming and Patrick Wellar. That leaves 49 players on the training camp roster, including Mikhail Grabovski who has yet to join the team full time.