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Monday Mailbag – How can the NHL fix its goalie interference issue?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
28 days ago
Welcome to a fresh Mailbag, dearest Citizens, that is geared up to help keep you updated on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re discussing Mattias Ekholm’s season, Vincent Desharnais’ next contract, eliminating mistakes, and more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk , and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Dec 28, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) shoots the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
1) Hank asks — Mattias Ekholm is having a whale of a season but likely won’t be nominated for the Norris Trophy because he doesn’t have enough points. Should the NHL offer another defensive award for well-rounded defenders who may not put up a point per game?
Jason Gregor:
I think there are enough awards.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
They absolutely should. The position has transformed so much over the last few decades that I think it’s only fair that they have a second award so defensemen who prioritize taking care of their own end can get recognized. Here’s a fun twist: have only active NHL forwards vote on that award. Let’s have the players who are on the ice trying to score decide who is the best at shutting them down.
Liam Horrobin:
Yes. They did it with Art Ross and Rocket. There’s also two awards for goaltenders with Vezina and Jennings. Now, it’s time for the NHL to get with the times.
Baggedmilk:
Yeah, I think it’s time. They haven’t had a new award in a while and I think the position has changed enough where it makes sense. Lately, the Norris seems to just go to whoever gets the most points, and I’d be interested in another award for best all-around or defensive defenceman.
Nov 22, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Vincent Desharnais (73) chase after the puck during the third period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
2) Brendan asks — Vinny Desharnais was nominated for the Masterton Trophy after one of the most unlikely journeys to the NHL, but do you think a season like this one could price him out of the Oilers’ future plans?
Jason Gregor:
Good question. He likes it here and wants to stay, but money talks. How he performs in the playoffs could go a long way in determining his next contract. I could see a deal around $2.2m making sense for Edmonton, but he and his agent might test the market. He would be sought after due to his size and penalty kill prowess.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t think it will price him out in Edmonton. I could see them signing a three-year deal worth around $2 million. If Desharnais wanted to try chase an extra little bit of cash, he maybe could but he would be leaving a pretty good situation here in Edmonton. I also think the Oilers will move on from Brett Kulak this summer, so they could use some of those savings on Desharnais.
Liam Horrobin:
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so I’ll say no. I don’t think Vinny leaves Edmonton for a bigger ticket. He seems like he’s loyal to the Oil and the price for him will be reasonable for both parties.
Baggedmilk:
I say Vinny stays! My bet is that he re-signs a multi-year deal at just under $2 million. Not bad for a 7th round pick, amirite?
Apr 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) scores a goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) as center Radek Faksa (12) looks on during the second period at the American Airlines Center.
3) Yves asks — There are games, Dallas comes to mind, when the Oilers look like their biggest issue is themselves. How can Kris Knoblauch get his team to play a simpler game at times when everything tightens up on the ice?
Jason Gregor:
He can’t. The players make the split-second decisions that impact games. He can remind them and show video, but ultimately it will be up to the players. They’ve had way more good games than bad under Knoblauch, and handling the pressure of the moment will be key in the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I’m not sure how he can do it, but I know it’s crucial to them having playoff success. They need to cut these massive mistakes out of their game. When they do, they dominate teams like they did against the Avalanche on Friday night.
Liam Horrobin:
A little accountability might do it. If Leon or Nurse are costing the team goals by turning the puck over then park their butts on the bench for a couple of shifts.
Baggedmilk:
Guys have to start missing shifts for mistakes. Though, that’s easier said than done when some of those errors are coming from the team’s best players.
Apr 5, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by defensemen Mattias Ekholm (14) during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place.
4) Ryan asks — What do you make of the Oilers being so good on the power play at home but not nearly as effective on the road?
Jason Gregor:
It seems like an outlier. The previous seasons the PP was very much the same at home or on the road. The one factor is McDavid. His home and road split are very home heavy for the first time in his career. I’d guess that is a factor for the odd PP splits.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I honestly have no idea. It’s not like having last change affects this at all. It honestly must just be a bit of a mindset thing. It’s also probably a little bit coincidental. Again, being at home or on the road really shouldn’t change their approach on the powerplay.
Liam Horrobin:
Good question.
Baggedmilk:
This is a fascinating question, and I honestly wish I knew the answer. It’s wild how much better they are at Rogers Place than when they’re on the road, and it’s a mystery that has been going on for a while now.
Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5) Oilers fan in Van asks — How can the NHL fix its goalie interference issue? The Oilers have had three coach’s challenges for goalie interference this past week, and even though all of them looked pretty similar, the results were split.
Jason Gregor:
I don’t see how they can. There will always be some grey area.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
They need to be more cut and dry with the rule. If you make contact with the goalie in the blue paint while a goal is being scored, the goal shouldn’t count. Simple as that. Right now there is too much grey area.
Liam Horrobin:
If an attacking player makes contact with the goaltender in the blue paint, without interference from the opponent, then it should be goaltender interference.
Baggedmilk:
If the NHL made the crease a protected area and any contact with the goalie in that area would be deemed no goal then I think it would help. Of course, there are grey areas with that plan too, so I don’t know if we’ll ever have a true answer for this problem given how fast everything happens on the ice.

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