Originally posted by uzless
I disagree with tracing it back to Neilson. Until the mid-90s, playoff hockey was still much more wide open. I would trace low scoring clutch and grab and defend hockey to the Devils of the mid-90s. The Devils proved you could win the Cup with not much talent on offense by turning the neutral zone into muck and turning a few turnovers into goals. So everyone followed suit. It's a lot easier to find a bunch of Key Danyekos and Ulf Samuelsons than it is to find a bunch of Jaromir Jagrs and Evgeni Malkins. If you can win with the former, they why not?
They've tried to change the rules to open the game up, but calling more clutching and grabbing doesn't work because:
1) Powerplay percentages are so low that taking a penalty just isn't enough of a disincentive. The goalies and the pads are so big and the defenses are so sophisticated and block so many shots that it's just too hard to score on the PP.
2) The refs swallow the whistle in the 3rd period anyway.
I know this is going to sound sacreligious, but I think the only way to open the game up is to make the goal bigger or the ice wider, or both. The current dimensions were not meant for goalies with pads the size they use now or for players as big as they are now.