The number of slashes is contributing to the rise in penalties, but perhaps its greatest effect is when teams are even strength -- when they try to avoid getting sent to the box for slashing.
"You definitely have to change your game," defenseman Nate Prosser said. "Some of these stick infractions are a little ticky-tacky sometimes. It's not making much of an impact on the play, but you're getting your stick in their hands and they'll call it slashing. There is a lot more penalties and you definitely have to be aware of your stick a little bit more nowadays."
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he has told the Wild it needs to "check with your legs more" and less with the stick since officials are on the prowl for even the smallest of slashes.
"That's why there's smaller players in the league right now, but there's a lot of faster skaters in the league. If you check with your legs, you don't have the big boost for the most part to go out and run people ..." Boudreau said. "They're not slashing as much, but I can still find one or two a game that they miss, I'll tell you that much."
Dubnyk said he didn't think fans wanted to see more power plays as the avenue to more excitement, and he said he didn't think increasing scoring should be the means to creating a more exciting game. But in that way, the emphasis on slashing is helping the league achieve its goal of a better game.
"They want guys to have it ingrained in them that you can't do that, so that might open something else up or allow a guy to get through, get opportunities," Dubnyk said. "That's how it should be. You want there to be scoring chances. I don't think it's necessarily pucks going in that make an exciting hockey game. It's scoring chances and pace of play. It doesn't matter if a game is 1-0 or 2-1.
"If there's a ton of scoring chances both ways and it's fast-paced, that's exciting for people to watch. Cracking down on that stuff so guys have to think to defend differently is a way to do that."
For Dubnyk's sake, it might mean the league keeps its hands off his equipment for a little while.
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