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Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck recently stopped a puck near his collarbone. It was a shot that Luke Schenn Jersey Kids , in years past, he might not have thought about twice.This time, it hurt.“Didn’t feel very good,” Hellebuyck said.He and his fellow NHL goalies will be wearing a smaller chest protector this season as the league continues to reduce the size of equipment, following recent reductions for pads and pants. The overall aim is to boost scoring while at the same time rewarding athletic ability in the crease by eliminating unnecessary padding that wasn’t protecting goalies, but instead simply helping them block pucks.A 190-pound goalie and a 240-pound goalie will no longer cut the same figure on the ice.“Three or four years ago, talking to some of the best goalies in hockey … they wanted us to try to find a way to make goalies look closer to the size they were,” Kay Whitmore, NHL vice president of hockey operations, told The Canadian Press. “The biggest complaint was, ‘If I weigh 50 pounds more than another guy, why do we look the same?'”The league, working in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association, has focused on reducing the size of the shoulders on chest protectors by roughly an inch to make them less boxy and more form-fitting. The same goes for the padding on a goalie’s arms.Getting the new equipment has taken longer because of delays with manufacturers, but Whitmore said the league is close to what will become the “new normal.”“We wanted to get it right once and for all,” he said. “It was a more complicated piece of equipment than when we introduced the new pants or pads. We can ask companies to make changes, but things didn’t move very fast until we created a standard, gave them specifics and asked them to build to it.”Whitmore, who played the position for 155 games with four NHL teams in his 15-year pro career, said safety remains a top priority.“There’s no expectation that a goalie should have to do his job getting bruised daily,” he said. “I don’t want to see guys go on the ice fearful of getting hit with pucks, because that’s what they do for a living.”Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, said the personal nature of chest protectors has been a challenge. Some goalies had worn their old ones for a decade or more.“The irony is each time we’ve made equipment smaller, it’s gotten lighter and goalies have gotten better,” said Schneider, a former NHL defenseman. “It’s not like this snuck up on us.”Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen said he is fine with the changes, adding that an inch of missing shoulder coverage shouldn’t make a difference in terms of results if he’s on his game.“It’s about being square Authentic Max Domi Jersey ,” Andersen said. “If I’m relying on that extra inch, I’m in trouble already.”Fellow Maple Leafs goalie Garret Sparks said he thinks the change could eventually help raise the skill level at the position.“It just pushes me to be better,” he said. “I’m open to the challenge as long as everybody’s covered.”NHL shooters scored more times in 2017-18 than in any season since 2005-06, averaging nearly six goals per game.With that in mind, Hellebuyck said he doesn’t see a need to change — for any reason.“I’m not happy about it because it’s my job,” he said. “And really what they want is me to be worse.”With the process underway since 2016, Whitmore said, recent history gives him confidence the new gear will provide the game an overall benefit.“It makes the job a little more difficult,” he said. “We changed other things to make goaltenders more mobile. At first they didn’t agree with it, but once they started playing they felt faster, quicker and actually got better. I don’t expect anything different from this once they adapt.” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman earned accolades for making the boldest moves in improving Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup aspirations at the NHL’s trade deadline in February.Evander Kane, however, might have been the biggest beneficiary after being dealt by eventual last-place Buffalo to San Jose on Feb. 26. Kane couldn’t contain his glee on his Twitter account a week ago in posting a message which read : ”(hashtag)playoffmode it’s about time!”It took him nine years and four cities – from Atlanta to Winnipeg, Buffalo and now San Jose – since being selected with the No. 4 pick by the then-Thrashers in the 2009 draft to finally prepare for his playoff debut. It will happen Thursday, when the Sharks open their Pacific Division first-round series at Anaheim.”It makes it easy to come to the rink. It makes it easy to play with this group of guys,” Kane said. ”I’m having a lot of fun right now.”The Sharks, who gave up a prospect and two conditional draft picks, including a potential first-rounder, might not be in this position without Kane. The 26-year-old picked up the offensive slack on a team that closed the season minus star Joe Thornton. Kane scored nine goals, including two game-winners, and added five assists in 17 games.In closing the season at 12-7-1, the Sharks’ 25 points ranked in a tie for 10th among NHL teams since the trade deadline.”He’s a crucial part of our team,” center Chris Tierney said of Kane. ”Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”Kane wasn’t the only late-season addition to provide his new team a boost.Yzerman added offense, defense and leadership to an already elite team by acquiring New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in one of the final trades completed. Miller led all players traded on Feb. 26 by scoring 10 goals and piling up 18 points in 19 games.”When you add two players like that and give up what they did, it’s you know: They’re in it to win it,” former player and NBC hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk said of the Lightning.Fellow analyst, Pierre McGuire looked to the moves made by Nashville.The Predators gave up a first-round draft pick in adding size and versatility to acquire forward Ryan Hartman from Chicago. They welcomed back veteran Mike Fisher, who signed out of retirement. They also signed forward Eeli Tolvanen http://www.officialavalanche.com/authen ... tto-jersey , after the rookie first-round pick’s Kontinental Hockey League season ended last month.”You look at everything Nashville has done, they never messed with the roster integrity that was created at the beginning of the year by David Poile and Paul Fenton,” McGuire said, referring to Predators management. ”So I think Nashville quietly, whether it’s at the deadline or just before, did some amazing things.”The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Predators (15-4-2), Winnipeg (15-4-1), Columbus (14-4-2) and Boston (13-5-4) led the NHL in points since Feb. 26.Columbus jumped from 19th in the overall standings to 14th in a run that coincided with the additions of forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole.Paul Stastny scored four goals and 13 points with playoff-bound Winnipeg, after being traded by St. Louis for a first-round pick. The Blues, by comparison, closed 10-7-2 and missed the playoffs with a season-ending loss to Colorado. And don’t forget Patrick Maroon, who had three goals and 10 points in 17 games for New Jersey, which acquired him from Edmonton.The Capitals filled secondary defensive needs by adding Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek just before the trade deadline.”We had holes to fill this year and we filled them with guys that aren’t as high-profile, but are just steady, and provided the things we needed for our team,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said.After appearing in just 31 games in Chicago, Kempny played 22 in Washington while securing a role alongside Norris Trophy-candidate John Carlson.In Philadelphia, goalie Petr Mrazek held the fort in going 6-6-4 in place of injured starter Brian Elliott. Elliott returned in time to win the final two games including a 17-save shutout in a season-ending, playoff-clinching 5-0 win over the Rangers.Not all the trades paid off down the stretch.Rick Nash missed Boston’s final 12 games with an upper body injury after being acquired in a trade with the Rangers.Tomas Plekanec managed just two assists in 17 games with Toronto after being acquired from Montreal.Tomas Tatar had four goals and six points in 20 games with Vegas, which landed him in a deal with Detroit.—AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno, in Washington, and sports writers Josh Dubow, in San Jose, and Teresa M. Walker, in Nashville, contributed to this report.—
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