NHL goal-scoring dips dramatically as season wears on
By Josh Yohe
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 6:48 p.m.
Fan interest has returned despite the NHL's 119-day lockout. Goals, however, have been hard to come by.
Since Feb. 1, goal production has dropped heavily in the NHL. Scoring was up through the season's first two weeks, but during the past 11 days, it has been historically low.
“Probably a little bit of everything,” Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland said.
The Penguins believe there are three reasons for the lack of scoring:
• The mini-training camp didn't allow coaches proper time to implement their systems. After a couple of weeks, though, teams found their defensive footing.
• Players are fatigued. The Penguins, for instance, just played 11 games in 19 days. Without the energy that a regular schedule can provide, teams are playing more conservatively and relying more on low-scoring fourth lines.
• Officiating has been different. Referees are more sensitive to possibly dangerous hits and boarding penalties, but the infractions that prevent scoring — interference, hooking and holding — aren't being called with the frequency of former seasons. The league decided that safety against concussion-inducing hits is more important than leaning toward obstruction-type penalties that promote more scoring.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma believes the lack of a training camp led to high-scoring games initially.
“You saw power plays have great success because penalty killers hadn't been practicing together,” Bylsma said. “Maybe they weren't on the same page. The last eight or nine days, you've seen more like regular-season games versus the first two weeks. It was haphazard in terms of fatigue, conditioning and mistakes overall.”
The numbers are clear.
During the first two weeks of the season, NHL games produced an average of 5.55 goals, which is slightly up from the past three seasons. However, starting Feb. 1, games are producing only 5.13 goals per game.
Goal-scoring typically drops during the course of the season as games become more important and power plays decline. The 5.13 total, should it continue, would represent the NHL's lowest-scoring season since 1956.
The league average is 5.36 goals per game so far for the 2013 season, but that number is dropping almost daily. Last season's goals-per-game average was 5.34.
“Teams have actually had some time to practice defense now and work on their systems,” Penguins left wing Tanner Glass said. “In the first couple of weeks, there were scoring chances taking place that you just wouldn't normally see.”
Officiating, Glass said, is also playing a significant role in the drastic drop in scoring.
“I especially see it on faceoffs,” Glass said. “There is a lot of interference going on. Not being called. So teams that are winning draws are being interfered with a lot and it is preventing a lot of scoring chances.”
The emergence of defensive systems is what most players point to for the tough sledding offensively.
“Everyone is settling in now,” Engelland said.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Kesler remains on Penguins’ radar as Shero looks bring back ‘Big 3’ formula
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Penguins minor league report: Defenseman Dumoulin optimistic for home stretch
- Penguins notebook: Fleury feeling sharp entering tough stretch
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Analysis: Kesler remains on Penguins radar as Shero looks bring back ‘Big 3’ formula
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Penguins’ Shero a master of NHL trade deadline deals
- Stempniak, Goc embrace trades to Penguins
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc