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Goalies have varying opinions on new pants

New York Rangers v Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7: Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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Sergei Bobrovsky has minimal worries about the new streamlined pants that all goalies will be forced to wear come Saturday. And he doesn’t think it’s going to be a “big deal” for his counterparts around the league.

“I feel pretty comfortable with them,” Bobrovksy said Saturday in Los Angeles, where he was representing the Columbus Blue Jackets at the All-Star Game. “I played already since I think the beginning of December in the new size, so I got used to it. It’s pretty comfortable.”

But Bobrovsky did allow that all goalies are different, and depending on their styles, not all of them may be so comfortable with the change.

Take Arizona’s Mike Smith, also an All-Star, who thinks it’s “crazy” to have an equipment change at this point in the season.

“I tried [the pants] once,” Smith said, per the New York Times. “That’s as far as I got. To have an equipment change midseason, I think, is crazy, especially in the goaltending position. It’s like five, 10 years ago, when it was the True Religion jeans, really baggy. It’s like going from those to skinny jeans. You can’t bend over. I tried it one time, and it felt like it was really restrictive.”

Also interesting about the timing of the change is that goalies are already having a fairly tough season. The league average save percentage is down to .913, after two straight years where it finished at a record-high .915.

The last full season to end at .913 was 2010-11.

The last time it finished below .900 was 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux racked up 161 points and eight players scored 50 or more goals.

“I don’t think we need to increase the scoring,” countered the affable Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals in each of his last two starts before the break. “There (have already been) scores like 7-6, 8-7. ... It’s not always fun to watch those games, too. I think you have to appreciate the hockey, with the way it is right now. It’s still very interesting to watch.”

That may be true, but more equipment changes are expected next season when the league targets the size of the goalies’ chest protectors.

Related: Bobrovsky feeling ‘really good right now,’ and that’s great news for the Jackets