Watch those curves

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- Smaller pads and bigger curves.

That wouldn't seem to add up to much fun for goaltenders around the NHL, but Edmonton Oilers Dwayne Roloson and Jussi Markkanen, who didn't make the trip to Manitoba for tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes at the MTS Centre, are shrugging off the league's latest attempt at adding offence and making masked men miserable.

The way Roloson sees it, the rule increasing maximum stick curvature to three-quarters of an inch won't change things much - Roli says there's always been a fair number of twigs in the stick rack already over the mandated half-inch maximum.

"Guys use big curves anyway," smiles Roloson. "Half the guys have illegal sticks anyway. It's been common in Europe for a long time.

"You might see a few North American guys change, but I don't think too many will. Most of the guys who'll be using the big curve are the European guys who are used to it."

The NHL downsized goaltending equipment after the lockout.

The latest change, less radical than the idea of bigger nets that's being contemplated, isn't significant, according to Markkanen.

In fact, the Finn says adding more curve to the blade probably isn't as big a factor in increasing the velocity of shots as is all the high-tech composite material that's being used for shafts and blades these days.

"They're trying to create more goals, so let the guys play with any stick they want," Markkanen said.

"I don't think there's going to be many guys who'll play with a bigger curve than they have in the past.

"Other than shooting the puck, putting it upstairs, in my opinion it's tougher to handle the puck on the backhand and everywhere else with the bigger curve."

There hasn't yet been a lineup of players around Barrie Stafford's work bench heating and bending their blades to take advantage of the ruling. But pre-season is the time when they'll experiment to see if there's any advantage to be had with a bigger curve.


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