Blog Entry

Goal scoring is still going down

Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 4:53 pm
Goal Scoring DownBy: Adam Gretz

Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at the continuing decline of goal scoring in the NHL.

On Tuesday Morning TSN's Gord Miller mentioned on Twitter that there has been some talk from "a few" NHL general managers about potentially reintroducing the red line. The NHL attempted to open up the game by allowing two-line passes coming out of the lockout prior to the 2005-06 season in an effort to help increase goal-scoring across the league.

If there is one thing the NHL doesn't need right now, from an offensive standpoint, it's a rule change that would take the league back to the clutch-and-grab, neutral zone obstruction era of pre-lockout hockey. You remember those days. Scoring first means a near automatic win, games that looked as if they were being played in mud through the middle of the ice.

The clutch-and-grab aspect is already making its way back into the game as teams seem to be getting away with more obstruction and interference away from the play, and goal-scoring has been nearing the levels it was in the late 90s and early 2000s when scoring first was a near automatic win.

When the NHL came out of the darkness that was the lost season of 2003-04, there was a huge crackdown on neutral zone obstruction, and when combined with the elimination of the red line, goal-scoring soared during the '05-06 season to levels that hadn't been reached since the early 90s.

In the following years, however, it's slowly but surely started to regress back to the dead puck era, and it seems that a lot of it has to do with the fact that the league has started to look the other way on neutral zone obstruction and interference away from the puck, and it's becoming more and more obvious every time you turn on a game.

Below is a quick look at the total goals-per-game across the NHL going all the way back to the 2000-01 season, as well as the number of power plays each team averaged on a per-game basis:

NHL Goal Scoring
Year Total Goals Per Game Average Power Plays For Team Per Game
2011-12 5.48 3.4
2010-11 5.59 3.5
2009-10 5.68 3.7
2008-09 5.83 4.1
2007-08 5.57 4.2
2006-07 5.89 4.8
2005-06 6.17 5.8
2003-04 5.14 4.2
2002-03 5.31 4.4
2001-02 5.24 4.1
2000-00 5.51 4.5

The league may be trying to crack down on headshots and hits from behind (and that's a good thing), but it's also been looking the other way on the neutral zone obstruction.

Before the lockout, when clutch-and-grab hockey was at its peak, teams were still averaging more than four power plays per game. As you can see over the past three years, teams are getting fewer and fewer opportunities on the man-advantage, which naturally helps lead to fewer goals, and it's been on a steady downward trend for the past six years.

That also helps put some individual performances across the league in some perspective. So far this season there are only 17 players in the NHL averaging at least a point-per-game, and only two players, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, are on a pace that would give them at least 100 points over the course of an 82-game season. Only five players are on a pace that would reach 90 points.

Last season only one player, Vancouver's Daniel Sedin, topped the 100-point plateau.

Of course, there's also been a player safety angle to a potential return of the two-line pass. It's been suggested over the course of the season that bringing the red line back and slowing the game down through the neutral zone could help cut down on the number of concussions across the league (a growing problem that isn't going away), as the game has simply become too fast and resulted in more violent collisions. On the surface, that does make some sense. But the problem with that argument is there is no way of really knowing for sure if concussions are a bigger problem now because the game is "too fast" through the neutral zone, or if head injuries were simply overlooked, underreported or simply viewed as "having your bell rung" 10 years ago and we're just more aware of it today.

At this point it's nothing but talk, but there is still some smoke for the return of the two-line pass, and fans of fast-paced, skillful hockey should be at least a little concerned. If they already aren't.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2012 4:48 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

less scoring and less fighting, way to go NHL

Since: May 19, 2011
Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:53 am

Goal scoring is still going down

Crack Kills

You should really think about giving it up

Since: Jul 28, 2008
Posted on: February 8, 2012 7:54 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

Its about the good of the game, yes business is important, but give us good old time hockey like the Bruins do.

Good old time hockey like the Bruins?  Are you joking?  The Bruins are the dirtiest team in the league.  They were the worst in the Northeast out of the lockout, then they went out and hired a goon coach, who brought in likeminded goon players who go out and goon it up every night.  It didn't start working until the NHL stopped calling the clutch and grab BS in the neutral zone.  

Since: Jan 30, 2008
Posted on: February 8, 2012 6:42 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

I agree that goalie equipment may have grown over the years. Reducing the dimensions may help bring the scoring back up. One change I want to see is to eliminate the whole trapezoid business behind the goal and make the goalie just another player when he goes behind the goal line. You will see a reduction in the number of times the goalies go behind the net to freeze or play the puck if they know they can get hit like anyone else. They are already banging the hell out of guys in the crease and getting away with it. Make them fair game to get hit.

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2012 3:46 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

Cujo I agree that everything about the skill of the goalies has increased but why then should the OVESIZE pads be necessary.  The size of the goalie catcher has to be twice the size of the one used by Dryden et al.

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2012 3:44 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

yeah you're right there are so many 8-7 games now.  8 goals would be a week in some cities!!  You seem to want it both ways...old time hockey but goalies get to wear full oversized goalie equipment...Seems pretty hypocritical. concerned about the psyche of goalies is silly as is wanting to get rid of skill and return to clutch and grab and hook hockey

Since: Jul 9, 2007
Posted on: February 8, 2012 3:42 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

What pads do you want to reduce Mark?  It has nothing to do with the padding.....I am a goaltender, and the difference is that this position has developed into a science through 40 to 50 years of research.  Angles, vision, playing the odds, game film and coaching.  If you add peak conditioning and speed into the mix it equals great goaltending. 

What happens if you reduce the padding increase the net size and scoring still declines....ask the keepers to do away with the masks?

Someone also mentioned the reduction in the Jersey size....thats just moronic. 

Since: Aug 29, 2011
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:20 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

Well obviously you are not a hockey fan drp10. The hockey that was great was before the lockout. The way the players like pronger and hatcher would clear the crease if you tried to stand in front of their goalie. Or like the way it was when you would dump the puck into the zone and if you tried to go around someone,,,, um no I don;t think so. You would get plastered. This league has turned into a European style type league. It sucks. And as for making the pads smaller. Really??? Come on man. What do you want from these goalies. To let in 5 goals a game. Are you kdding me. Who the hell would want to play goalie when they arent proctected with enough padding, and they let in an average of 5 goals a night. The confidence and moral of goalies would be shot. You would really ruin the game. The more creative players you have in this league the more that I as a true hockey fan would not want to watch anymore. That game is for Europe not The USA and Canada. I as a true hockey fan would love to see the red line put back in. Makes for awesome 2-1 3-2 games especially in the playoffs. These 8-7 5-3 games are ridiculous. Get rid of them and get back to old time hockey.

Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:12 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

Reduce the size of the goalie's pads and you'll see an increase in scoring.  There are some very talented goalies in the NHL, and some who just get in the way of the puck because their pads are so big.  Reduce the pads over the next 2-3 years and the imposters will be exposed.

Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:12 pm

Goal scoring is still going down

The notion that finishing checks is somehow antequated and unnecessary is ridiculous. Maybe we should just change the format of the game to a skills competition like they do before the all star game, so no one breaks a nail.

But i agree that the concussion need to end-

Its simple- Guys need to keep their heads up, thats hockey 101.  And guy that takes advantage of a player with his head down needs to know better. THATS the problem, guys are playing recklessly with no respect for their opponent. Probably because thee are so many teams and players now, from all over the place. No one cares about their opponent because they dont know them. 

Any hit to the head is an automatic 5 game suspension, called by the ref and reviewed by the league for appeal only.  Additionally, a 5 minute major and a game misconduct (match penalty with the suspension in tow) So as you are walking off the ice, you know you wont be back for two weeks.

But the guy that got hit has to be accountable. By having his head down, he puts himself, and now the opposing player at risk on injury and suspension. He should also receive a game misconduct and a 1 game suspension for having his head down.

Just like the "low bridge" is a dirty play, this should be in the same category.

That would stop the nonsense really quickly.


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