In the 2015-16 season, pro hockey tinkered with a couple of rules in an effort to add some scoring punch, both in regulation and overtime. We've come up with HOCKEY BLAST adjustments to reflect those rules changes, and while we were at it, have put together a couple of other game play wrinkles that you may want to implement in games played with the 2015-16 Pro Season cards...
Apparently, the people that run pro hockey have discovered that fans don't care for the shootout method of deciding games when a game-winning goal is not scored in the overtime period. Thus, they took steps last season to try to get more goals scored in overtime by reducing the number of players each team has on the ice, from four to three. From the standpoint of shooting percentage, the plan worked. A typical pro team scores on about 15% of its shots in regulation. In previous seasons, with four-on-four skating in overtime, the scoring rate increased to about 22%. Last season, with three-on-three skating, the scoring rate clocked in at about 40%. Thus, only about a third of overtime games went to a shootout, vs. about a two-thirds rate with the four-on-four rules.
To reflect this boost in HOCKEY BLAST, we suggest the following rules changes. First, ignore any "scissors" ASST ratings and consider them to be "no symbol." Second, give every shot in overtime a two-star SHOT "bonus." That is, whatever the shooting player's SHOT rating is, add two stars to it. (A player with double-scissors SHOT rating would then be "no symbol.") These changes are in addition to the overtime guidelines already listed in the rules booklet, where all "7" LULL results are considered "3" PLAY results, and so on.
Pro league GMs also voted to change face-off rules in the defensive zones to create a better opportunity for goals to be scored. The new rule states that the player who is on the defensive side of the red line must be the first to place his stick on the ice before the puck is dropped. In doing so, that player is at a slight disadvantage to the attacking player, who can put his stick down second. Previously, the rules required the player on the visiting team to put his stick down first in ALL zones, including at the center-ice face-off dot.
If you'd like to reflect the slight attacking team advantage created by this new rule, you can make the following adjustment in your HOCKEY BLAST game book: on all face-offs that follow a "puck frozen" result (i.e., Goalie Save chart, result "7") change face-off result "8" from "HOME wins face-off" to "ATTACKING team wins face-off." Of course, if the home team IS the attacking team, then no change is made. Similarly, no change is made to the Power Play or Empty Net minutes face-off charts, as those scenarios give the advantage to the attacking team already.
I've spent some time discussing with other HOCKEY BLAST fans that, likely because of the increased focus on player safety in recent years, the penalty shot has become more frequent in modern-day hockey than it was in previous eras. Of course, much of the research that went into developing HOCKEY BLAST was based in those older eras, where a penalty shot was a fairly rare event. You could expect to see one perhaps every 30 or 40th game. In today's hockey, a penalty shot happens about every fifteen games.
We've observed that many penalty shots are a result of a player being pulled down from behind as a last-ditch move by a desperate defender on a breakaway attempt that appears to be likely to result in a goal. So we created a game adjustment based on that observation. On breakaway plays, change PLAY result "2" from "o2-o3-o5" to "(choice) player pulled down from behind by defender, PENALTY SHOT." This change, coupled with the penalty shot results already called-for in the Unusual Penalties chart, should get your penalty shot frequency up to modern-day levels.
Incidentally, penalty shots are resolved the same way as shoot-out shots, explained on page xvii of the rules. It’s assumed that your “choice” player will have at least one SHOT star.
This final idea is something that is included in LACROSSE BLAST, and I think works well for hockey, too. So well that I have been incorporating it into my own HOCKEY BLAST games! Whenever a FIGHT result (dice roll "2," main chart) comes up but no FIGHT ensues, either because no player has a FIGHT rating or because one or both players rolled outside his FIGHT rating, assume that someone threw a punch anyway. Make ONE roll on the FIGHT chart, use that result to determine momentum. A full-blown scuffle does NOT occur, and no penalties are whistled. Mark off the minute, conduct a face-off, and resume play.