This year, the National Hockey League instituted a new rule change concerning the size of goalie pads. As an article from NHL.com explains :
The previous rule, instituted prior to the 2010-11 season, was that a goalie's leg pads could not go higher on his leg than 55 percent of the distance between the center of his knee and his pelvis. So if a goalie's upper-leg measurement was 20 inches, which is roughly the average number in the NHL, the pad could not go higher than 11 inches above the center of his knee.
This was the NHL's latest move to try and boost scoring in a league that has seen scoring drop significantly since the 2004 - 2005 lockout.
The new rule was expected to shorten most goaltenders pads by an inch or two, affecting some more than others.
So has the new rule worked?
In the previous two seasons, the league wide save percentage at even strength was 92.138%. This year, the league-wide even strength save percentage is actually slightly up at 92.356%.
On the penalty kill, goalies are saving 88.189% of shots this year, up from 87.57% in the two previous seasons.
Now there are two things to address before we run to the streets and laugh at Gary Bettman for failing miserably with this rule change.
The first is that league average saver percentage has been increasing. Eric pointed this out in his NHLnumbers article, offering the explanation that the new goalies coming into the NHL are the ones driving up the average save percentage. This year, we have seen the likes of Martin Jones, Eddie Lack, Jonathan Bernier, and a few other young goaltenders play exceptionally well. So the increase in save percentage could be just a product of the league average save percentage naturally increasing.
The second point is that we are dealing with pretty small differences in save percentage. And since we are dealing with only half a season so far this year, the league-wide save percentage at even strength and on the penalty kill could easily sink down over the second half of the season.
Still, it is quite interesting that the new rule change doesn't seem to have had the drastic effect on goaltenders that many analysts thought it might.
Note: Thanks to @garik16 for bringing this fact to my attention