Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How many goals should there be?

I'm always amazed that I can write something like "last season was the sixth-lowest scoring campaign in the past 50 years — and goal scoring is trending downward" and still get vehement opposition from those that don't think a lack of offence in the NHL is a problem.

If it isn't now, it's likely about to be.

Here's a look at goal scoring since 1935-36, with the postlockout blip registered right there at the end. Note where the last two seasons fit in:

So much for the rule changes.

It's a difficult question, though: How much offence is enough? I'd never argue that a return to the eight goals a game style of the 1980s is where we should head, but is six too much to ask? Wouldn't the hockey be better if a shutout was a rarer feat, rather than something Brian Boucher can post in five consecutive games on a mediocre team?

And shouldn't it be easier to rally from a two- or three-goal deficit?

Last year, for example, there were six times as many shutouts as 20 years earlier. Pascal Leclaire posted nine, blanking the opposition in 17 per cent of his starts, and his team missed the postseason by a wide margin.

That's insanity.

Here's a comparison of the NHL to other North American and European leagues. First up, the AHL and major juniors:

I'm actually surprised to see the Ontario and Quebec leagues mirror each other recently as the QMJHL has had the reputation as North American hockey's highest-scoring circuit for a long, long time. (Which is interesting given how many high quality goaltenders have come out of the province.)

The AHL and WHL, meanwhile, both have mimicked the NHL recently. All three leagues are known for playing fairly defensive hockey.

Here's the Swedish and Russian leagues for the years I could pull together:

The Russian league's always been a pretty low-scoring circuit, but we can see it making some progress toward the NHL, while the Swedish Elite League's totals have been falling.

So there's a range there, between five and eight goals, where essentially every hockey league falls into. Is there more entertainment value at one level over another? And is it worth making a major change to keep the NHL well above the 5.0 mark?
.

41 Comments:

At 3:27 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Can you seperate the Western and Eastern Conferences out for individual trends? I would assume there is at least a half goal a game difference between the two conferences, and I'd be interested to see if the downward trend in the past 3 years is evenly distributed in one conference over the other.

I'm actually surprised to see the Ontario and Quebec leagues mirror each other recently as the QMJHL has had the reputation as North American hockey's highest-scoring circuit for a long, long time. (Which is interesting given how many high quality goaltenders have come out of the province.)

That's just where the best Quebecois athletes chose to play (goal). If the Habs had won two Cups on the back of Raymond Bourque instead of Patrick Roy, we might've saw a lot of good Quebec born two-way defensemen in the NHL starting in the mid-90s to early 00s.

 
At 3:27 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

And is it worth making a major change to keep the NHL above the 5.0 mark?

Well, they've made a bunch of major changes without serious changes in scoring, so yes, a meaningful change is probably a step up.

But I don't know if I like the common solutions -- smaller pads, bigger nets -- these might cause another lockout-style blip in scoring, but I doubt they make huge long-term gains.

What probably needs to be addressed more than anything is motivation: the league can make it more difficult to prevent goals, but if it's not making it any less important to prevent goals, then teams will adjust.

It's a radical notion, but if the league wants more goals scored, it could (gasp!) reward goal-scoring. If the NHL were to seed postseason teams according to total GF, I don't think scoring would be a problem no matter what the on-ice rules or net sizes were.

 
At 3:50 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Docciavelli said...

I'd like to see similar charts for fighting majors to see if there's a similar correlation.

 
At 3:53 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Can you separate the Western and Eastern Conferences out for individual trends?

saskhab--I ran a quick and dirty GPG breakdown by conference by quarter (gms 1-20=Q1, gms 21-41=Q2, gms 42-61=Q3, gms 62-82=Q4).

East GPG / West GPG:
0506 Q1: 6.57 / 5.92
0506 Q2: 6.04 / 6.07
0506 Q3: 6.03 / 5.97
0506 Q4: 6.11 / 5.71
0607 Q1: 6.14 / 5.50
0607 Q2: 5.93 / 5.63
0607 Q3: 5.96 / 5.58
0607 Q4: 5.87 / 5.45
0708 Q1: 5.58 / 5.45
0708 Q2: 5.69 / 5.23
0708 Q3: 5.62 / 5.35
0708 Q4: 5.40 / 5.21

Note that shootout "goals" are not included.

 
At 4:00 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

The lack of scoring is a major issue, and if we had any real leadership in this league they'd be worried about it. The NFL saw a slight dip a few years back and made major rule changes to keep scoring at a desirable level. The NHL has had a problem for 15 years and keeps insisting that everything is fine.

The time has come for bigger nets. Not soccer-sized, and not the ridiculous curved posts they were floating a few years back. But adding two inches all around would likely be enough to impact scoring while being barely noticable to fans.

 
At 4:21 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Kish said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4:25 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

My view is similar to Earl's, though I phrase it differently. The lack of goals isn't the problem; it's a symptom of the problem. The main challenge facing hockey is that playing defense has become too easy, so more and more teams have changed to playing a style that emphasizes defense. I don't think that most fans can identify a trap when it's being played in front of them (I'm only starting to recognize it, but I suppose that people who have actually played hockey might be more adept at it.) They do recognize when the game has become being about clogging everything up and preventing excitement.

Changing the size of the goal would increase the number of goals, but it only deals with the symptom. The disease would remain. If anything, slowing the game down and preventing shots would become even more important.

Until hockey figures out a way to free up the action, its basic problem will remain. I don't know of a good way to do this, though I have options I'd go for. Perversely, hockey is struggling with the increase in the athleticism of its players. Most sports are made more exciting because of this change, but hockey, literally, runs into the boards. It's now too easy for even marginal players to move around on the restricted playing surface and play defense. The ability to move has increased at a much faster rate than have the skills beyond raw speed that are necessary for offense.

There is a myth that speed increases offense. All other things being equal, it has the opposite effect. This is more than just the change relative to skills. It's also a product of where along the distribution curve the changes have happened. The fastest players today aren't that much faster than the fastest players of two decades ago. The marginal player of today, though, could skate circles around the marginal player of yesteryear. Now, all you have to do is sort through your marginal players to find the ones who are willing to work their ass off and have the discipline to play a system, and you have yourself a line capable of playing solid defense.

Something has to be done to increase the separation between the top players and the scrubs.

 
At 5:09 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Kish said...

I think the issue is better framed as "how does the NHL increase scoring chances per game?", not goals per game.
IMO, i don't think people will like the effects of bigger nets and significantly smaller pads (I think they should be shrunk a bit). I know I appreciate a low scoring, high chance game as much (or sometimes more) than an 8-6 mistake-fest. I think more crappy goals will change the game for the worse. by crappy goals, i mean a slapper from centre through a bit of a screen, a wrister through some bodies near the boards/blueline. I'm sure many of you have played with the street hockey rule "no chicken shots"; the premise being you should do something to deserve a goal, and directing pucks on net from everywhere and anywhere inside the redline isn't exactly "earning it". Make a play, a good pass, beat a guy for position, dangle... something creative.
Take the NFL's example, give the offensive players room to create. they didn't make the endzones deeper or wider. Soccer is the other example: giant net and over a long timeline has produced a game where teams trap and think defense first all the time because any shot from their half of the field has a decent chance of going in. so, they have nil-nil ties where the shots are 5-3. on the flip side, i've watching soccer games that ended 0-0 with tons of shots and chances and left feeling like a satisfied consumer.
They need to focus on offensive chances and room for skilled players. Goals are an incomplete measure of the "excitement" of a game.

 
At 5:26 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

Definitely the problem is that in hockey defense, even well-played defense, tends to be boring. The only sport I can think of where defense is really exciting is baseball.

However, defense wins. Nothing else is as important as winning, so nothing else is as important as playing good defense. That's why Lemaire has been trying to rein in Gaborik for years to the point that almost everyone on Planet Puck figures he is going to jump to the Eastern conference to have a chance to play offensively creative hockey.

I like Earl's idea of seeding according to goals for in the playoffs - but that still isnt' enough, I don't think. Defense will still be important in actually winning games and advancing in the playoffs, so no team is going to forgo that. I think you'd see a lot more teams really beating up on overmatched opponents, even late in the game, to jack up their goals numbers and counting on playing the good opponents tight.

Maybe goals differential? You can only limit goals against so much and still have to score something to win games; although I suspect that might be so well-correlated with records that it wouldn't make any difference except to add another layer of complexity.

The biggest difference for me in how enjoyable a game is is the quality of the teams. No matter what the score is - 0-0 with the result determined in a shootout, or 6-4 with several lead changes - if both teams play like crap, then I feel I've wasted my time watching. If both teams play well, I enjoyed watching the game.

I don't know an easy way to make teams that are lousy better overnight - and goodness knows lousy teams have tried practically everything already.

I don't know if it's possible to keep games above a particular score - unless the officials call a penalty on the team that is leading, so the team trailing has an opprortunity to come back with the power-play, especially when the home team is trailing so the home fans have to wake up ... hey, wait a minnit ...

 
At 5:31 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

Changing the size of the goal would increase the number of goals, but it only deals with the symptom. The disease would remain. If anything, slowing the game down and preventing shots would become even more important.

This is true to an extent, but doesn't tell the whole story.

These days, goalies are bigger (due to both size and equipment). They also play a better positional game, and rely on their positioning to cut off most of the net. Goalies rarely react to a shot anymore -- they just drop down and cover as much of the net as possible. If you can beat them high, then more power to you. But most shooters can't.

Because there's so little net to shoot at, players have learned that the only high percentage scoring chances they get will come in the slot area. Long shots from the point rarely work, and neither do shots from the side -- there's just not enough net to shoot at.

So now we have a smaller scoring area than before. And that makes defending even easier. You take away the middle of the ice, and you've taken away the scoring changes. Let the offence have the perimiter, the defence just clogs the middle.

If you make the nets bigger, you make it possible to score from outside again. And that in turn forces the defence to respect those shots, which spreads them out and opens up the ice.

So yes, defence would be just as (if not more) important. But it would also be harder, requiring more skill and effort. Not every team would have the players to do it well. And that gets to the disease, not just the symtoms.

 
At 5:38 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

So yes, defence would be just as (if not more) important. But it would also be harder, requiring more skill and effort. Not every team would have the players to do it well. And that gets to the disease, not just the symtoms.

So you mean make the players defend the ENTIRE rink, not just the smaller virtual rink the offense actually is limited to because of the goaltender.

 
At 5:46 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

If you make the nets bigger, you make it possible to score from outside again. And that in turn forces the defence to respect those shots, which spreads them out and opens up the ice.

I don't see this as the outcome, really. I think you'd see more offensive conservatism, as coaches who still want to prevent goals-against keep more players back to more effectively cover the harder-to-defend end of the rink.

Less pinching, less gambling, and heck, probably more outside hope-it-bounces-in shots.

To those who offer bigger nets or smaller pads as a solution, I guess I'll counter: how exciting is the screened-goalie point shot? Because with more net, I'd guess this play becomes even more the play-of-choice for what's increasingly becoming a pinball-goal league.

So yes, defence would be just as (if not more) important. But it would also be harder, requiring more skill and effort. Not every team would have the players to do it well.

Well, this statement applies just as well to the last set of ineffective rule changes. Maybe this time we'll get lucky, though.

 
At 6:10 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

4X4 hockey. The whole game.

That change alone means it's curtains for all the slow-moving geezers like Hatcher, Chelios, Roberts, Weight, et al.

The no-talent speed monkeys on 3rd and 4th lines can skate around trying to roller derby their opponents, but as Gretzky used to say, the fastest way to get the puck from Point A to Point B is to pass it, not to skate with it. Puck-handling, skating and passing will once again be the dominant skills.

 
At 6:39 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Get teams to carry the puck into the zone.

I think the best way to do that is to make the blue line much wider, for the purposes of offsides. So a puck is in the neutral zone until it crosses the far edge (closest to a goal) of the blue line, but it's in the defensive/offensive zone until it crosses the other edge (closest to centre ice). The entire width of each blue line becomes part of the neutral or offensive zones, depending on where the puck is.

This would make it: 1) easier to break traps in the neutral zone with good passes, 2) easier to enter the offensive zone without a dump-and-chase, and 3) more difficult to clear the puck from the defensive zone.

 
At 6:48 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Sorry, I think I mistyped. I meant that a player be on the blue line and receive a pass from the neutral zone, not that the puck is in the neutral zone until it passes the far edge.

As it is now, you can't pass the puck across both edges of the blue line. This would be the same, except with more room for players in between those edges (and thus more room for trappers to defend).

 
At 6:58 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger GEO said...

Goals don't make games exciting.

Scoring chances do.

Shrink the pads, get rid of the trapezoid, and get rid of the OT point and you'll see a much different brand of hockey.

 
At 8:16 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

BTW, James, looking at your first chart, what the heck happened in 1944-45 or so? Did all the goalies get simultaneously sent to Europe for WWII or something?

 
At 8:24 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger XsavagistX said...

im amazed that the stats used for why goals are down isnt thorough on "WHY" scoring is down. there needs to be way more data to figure this out instead of just saying "make the goals bigger" because you look at one set up numbers and jump ship.

thats like saying, why not just ban the Red Wings from the league? they dont like to give up many shots. how absurd of them! they are ruining the game! and the Blue Jackets? why dont they fire Ken Hitchcock for implementing a defensive structure that limits quality shots from the opposition (to help their goalie) on a team with little scoring talent (regardless of the era/rules, that team is going to stink at scoring outside of Rick Nash last season)!?

http://www.hockeyanalytics.com/ does the stats on quality of shots, etc.

i just dont understand the logic on how we lionize defensive stalwarts/systems for being amazing machines. we lionize Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom and a system they play to limit quality shots and shots in general (which every team wants to copy now with mobile puck moving defenseman who are good enough to still defend - because it works)... then we get upset because scoring isnt up.

why was the scoring so low in the early 50's?

does the current schedule have anything to do with lower goal scoring since teams play each other in division a million times, they methodically scout and strategize for those specific teams so the scores are lower with matchups and system play? then theres less games against teams you dont scout as hard is lowering it? i dont know. but theres obviously something in the overall system (of all the leagues) making it drop - NOT the players talents and its not the goalies in particular or the goal size.

 
At 8:37 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger geezer said...

if you painted a small area in front of the net defeses need to stay out of that would help. Another idea is to make the 4 players all collaping down low an illegal defense and award a penalty.

 
At 8:52 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger mf37 said...

Prohibit coaches.

Not only will scoring go way up, owners will save the cost of at least three salaries.

 
At 9:03 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I disagree XsavagistX: I think the large majority of the difference is from the goaltenders. Defensive play has a role, too.

I've broken down all kinds of available numbers here in the past: shots on goal, save percentage, shutouts, etc. Shots on goal have remained relatively stable for the past 25 years. What we don't know is the quality of shots netminders have faced.

They are stopping a much higher percentage than previously, though. Save percentages have risen from an average of .873 to nearly .91, which is the equivalent of about 2.25 extra goals in a typical 60-shot game.

But the question I'm posing here isn't "what caused the decline?" It's: "What number should the league target?"

How many goals is enough?

 
At 9:43 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger XsavagistX said...

i think quality of shots is the key. would the LA Kings be comfy with Chris Osgood in net to take them to the playoffs this upcoming season? deep down, i doubt it. does Lidstrom and an overall team defensive structure make Chris Osgood and Pascal Leclaire look WAY better (even though he is still good)? hell yes. just go check out how much Columbus has improved since Hitchcock came in with their defensive structure on: http://www.hockeyanalytics.com/Research_files/2008_NHL_Review.pdf

if they actually had the talent to score goals, theres no way theyre not an effective playoff team with that structure. they keep shots to the perimeter. that in turn makes it easier on Leclaire for him to boast shutouts on a team that can barely score. is it any wonder that Minnesota is second on the list for quality of shots against? the anomalies are teams like NYR where they didnt give up many shots, but they were all higher quality - making Lundqvist really look like a stud. another note is the Oilers. they were terrible at giving up tons of shots, and high quality of shots at that - what saved them to have 40+ wins? an amazing run at the end with improved offense (to tie games) and Garon being an absolute stud in shootouts. they got by on technicalities. and thats coming from a heavily influenced defensive coach.

go to page 12 on that PDF and see how impactful Vokoun was and what the writer has to say about the teams who had ranked high with giving up less quality shots. "Although it is certainly possible, you wont normally find impactful goaltending behind a great defense. It just does not get the opportunity to shine. So it is not so surprising to see the goaltending of San Jose, Detroit and Columbus in the bottom half of this list. This does not mean that goaltending for these teams is necessarily weak, just that it did not contribute much to overall team success."

take it for what its worth, but until i see better nerd stats than this guy put together - he makes a good case.

and i thought these new composite sticks were going to make shots more accurate.

how much is enough? who knows. if i wouldnt have known the stats last year - id be completely oblivious and say i was entertained.

if this was the 80's again, how many people would be complaining that the goaltending needs to improve cause Gretzky and others are making on the ice slap shots onto the highlight reel?

and for some, using football analogies isnt helpful. those stats are so skewed by field goals that its ridiculous. just keep in mind that the LEADING SCORER in the NFL last year was Mason Crosby, a KICKER for the Packers. if the NHL only had a kicker position and a field goal post (sigh). if football only had to score only touchdowns, the scoring (and overall dynamics of the game) would be way different and the mirage of "6 points" for "1" score would make the games look less appealing. the NFL has a gimp position that puts up fractional points to help it along. the NHL doesnt. you score by putting the puck in the net, not an upright.

 
At 9:46 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it even possible for the league to target a particular number? It's easy to determine the mean and figure out that 5.2 goals per game is more than 4.9 goals per game, but if the variability is between games that wind up 1-0 and those that wind up 6-4, how relevant is just a simple mean?

And what happens if most teams are above the number, but three or four drag it down for them and their fans. Or vice versa, for that matter.

I'm not sure the league could target one number and keep tweaking the rules every offseason to try to hit the target for the next season if they fall short. It seems a little arbitrary in a way.

 
At 10:24 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

Scoring chances do.

Yes, but real scoring chances. Players who manage to get an open shot, only to have it glance harmlesly into the giant shoulder pads of a motionless goalie don't create much excitement.

 
At 10:27 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

Here's a response that's somewhat (but not completely) tongue-in-cheek.

Want to increase offense? Eliminate revenue sharing.

Tell the owners that they're responsible for selling the game in their market. No more welfare checks from Toronto or Detroit or Montreal. You need to convince the fans in your market that your product is worth watching, or you'll go out of business.

Now, if you want to do that by hiring a defensive coach who plays the trap and tries to win every game 1-0, you go right ahead. Or you could look for another way...

 
At 11:44 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Problem is coaching which is too good with five assistants, scouting, video (RIP, Roger) etc.

Players want to play offensive game, fans want to watch offence, owners talk about it all the time...

Coaches want defence because it's what they can control. You can't really ban coaching but limiting the number of coaches could help.

With only one coach there isn't enough time to do it all.

But then again we could ask Pierre McGuire who told us for years that taking redline off would give us this great freewheeling game where breakaways are constant. Whammo!

Like defencemen are so stupid that they would let forwards behind their back after getting burned once or twice. Oops, no redline! Sorry coach, again.

Btw, couldn't NHLPA hire McGuire like they did with Healy? Paul Kelly, please...

 
At 12:04 AM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change nothing except the rink surface size. Players are bigger. Players are faster. They are better positionally. Why hasn't the ice surface changed in size? Some of the rinks just look tiny compared to what they were just 20 or 15 years ago and that is because of player size.

 
At 1:12 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger Patty (in Dallas) said...

No matter how much you try to favor the offense, the defense is not going to just stand aside and let it happen. Any change will eventually be adjusted to.

Larger nets would work for half a season, until the goalies and the defense figure out what they have to do to bring the goals against back down.

Larger rinks mean that half a season into it, they defensemen who might have been going out of position to make hits on the wider ice will adjust their positioning to bring the goals against back down. I already hear criticism of European leagues and their lack of hitting. I blame the rink size.

As anonymous pointed out, it didn't take long for teams to adjust to the lack of the red line. The rink-length pass is still highly rare. The D-men just have to play farther back than they used to.

 
At 3:39 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger Joe said...

Making the rinks wider won't do anything. No matter how big the rink is, if its 1000 ft x 500 ft, the most important section of ice is still directly in front of the goal. Defensemen will be content to let you take your shot from 100 feet out on the outside, as they stay collapsed firmly near the middle.

You know would promote goal scoring in hockey the best, without increasing the size of the nets? Limit teams to only have 4 men in their defensive zone at a time. This creates scoring in a couple of ways.

1) The team on offense obviously gets a 5 on 4 advantage, they just need to not get too close to the forward who is waiting at the blueline for them to come back out.

2) The guy who can't come back into the zone is now sitting in the neutral zone. Essentially, he has a cherry picking opportunity, if he wants it. Someone screws up, one pass the other way, and you got a break away.

3) "Well then the offensive team would just put one of their guys back to guard the cherrypicker" you say? Well, even if they did, its 4 on 4 then in the offensive zone. 4 on 4 creates more goals than 5 on 5, so now we're raising goal scoring again, without actually trimming pads or making the net bigger.

Such positional restrictions are enforced in soccer, as well as other sports. They were even a part of hockey before. Why not make them a part of the game again?

 
At 5:21 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger The Puck Stops Here said...

Goals per game is not the most important factor in my enjoyment of hockey. The NHL has sold it as though it is. One problem with that is there is no knob to turn to control the number of goals per game. The NHL has tried several knobs and for the most part have not achieved their desired effect.

I am not looking for multiple changes to the game of hockey in a failed attempt to increase scoring. That has already had a negative effect on the game in my opinion and could get worse if some of the proposals we have seen here so far were adopted.

That is not to say that hockey cannot ever be changed. Of course it can. However the correct question to ask before making a change is does it make the game of hockey better. The question that is often asked is do we think this will increase scoring.

If you ask the wrong questions you wind up doing stupid things. If any changes are to be made to hockey, you only make changes that make the game better and let goals per game fall wherever they will. The current method is equivalent to micromanaging employees in a business and it fails just as well.

 
At 6:35 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

That is not to say that hockey cannot ever be changed. Of course it can. However the correct question to ask before making a change is does it make the game of hockey better. The question that is often asked is do we think this will increase scoring.

It reminds me of baseball, actually. Attendance and revenues weren't going up, so they decided they needed more runs - and thus turned the other way when players bulked up on steroids so they could send the balls flying out of the new, smaller ballparks. Bingo! Revenues and attendance are way up.


Want to increase offense? Eliminate revenue sharing.

Tell the owners that they're responsible for selling the game in their market. No more welfare checks from Toronto or Detroit or Montreal. You need to convince the fans in your market that your product is worth watching, or you'll go out of business.

Now, if you want to do that by hiring a defensive coach who plays the trap and tries to win every game 1-0, you go right ahead. Or you could look for another way...


Coaches play defense because with a minimally-talented team they need to do what they can to win games with the roster given to him by the GM. So, along the same lines, eliminate the need for coaches to play boring defensive hockey in order to keep their jobs - have the fans vote on the entertainment value of the teams, and if they had fun, the coach stays. An applause meter for continued employment.

 
At 9:40 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger Patty (in Dallas) said...

Coaches play defense because with a minimally-talented team they need to do what they can to win games with the roster given to him by the GM.

Coaches with talented teams play defense, too. That's how the Red Wings won the Cup with Chris Osgood in goal.

 
At 9:41 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

I would be happy, James, at around 6 goals per game. I'd like to see the winning team get four goals most nights.

Lots of commenters have proclaimed that scoring chances are more important than goals. That's fine for individual games, but over the long haul, we only recognize them as scoring chances if they frequently end up as goals. Any change to increase the number of chances would necessarily increase the number of goals (or, more logically, the other way around).

And yes, bigger nets. I'd like to see a goalie "learn" how to cover a bigger net equally well as a smaller one. Perhaps then I could learn to be taller.

 
At 10:59 AM, August 27, 2008, Blogger YzermanZetterberg said...

I too would like to see about six goals per game...for the Red Wings. The rest of the league should average about three. ;)

Seriously, I'm hoping that the latest round of reductions in goalie equipment (including eliminating extra flaps) will make a difference.

I really don't like the idea of making the nets bigger. How about making it illegal to play anything but man-to-man defense inside your own blue line during 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 play? The penalty for playing a zone/trap defense would be a penalty shot. (After all, it wouldn't make much sense to penalize a team for playing a zone defense by making them play zone defense on the PK.)

Other (tongue-in-cheek) possibilities include:
-- Allowing goalies to wear equipment as large as they want, as long as they also wear a blindfold. The bigger the equipment, the more the goalie's vision is obstructed.
-- Having a defensive player who blocks a shot called "out" (like in dodgeball). That player must immediately leave the ice and be replaced by another player.
-- Playing with two pucks.

Yep. It's definitely August.

 
At 11:05 AM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do more goals make the game better? Not necessarily for current fans of the game, but to attact new ones, I'm sure it does. The most common complaint I hear against baseball is that "it's too slow." That's usually from someone who doesn't appreciate great pitching, or great defense. They just want to see lots of homeruns, lots of running around the bases, lots of hits. Is a no-hitter less exciting than a 10-10 game?
It's the same in hockey. Most current fans (IMO) can appreciate things other than just goals in a games. There's so much more to hockey than just goals. If we're trying to attract more people to the sport, then I agree with Mirtle - we need more goals.

But I don't think the game is broken. I think some franchises are broken. Quit putting crappy teams on the ice and the game will be more exciting. Quit having "easy wins" and make 30 teams competitive. Why is it so easy to predict Atlanta, Toronto, or LA will end up last this year?

 
At 12:24 PM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Sabrebat said...

I have two thoughts on this whole thing: 1. I believe scoring is down due to increased size of goalie equpment and the overall increase in defensive skill and work ethic of the players. Both have evolved slowly over the last 20 years, but at least the goalie equipment can be addressed and modified back to a reasonable level.
2. I don't think there is a need to try and work rule changes into the NHL to allow for my scoring, because I don't think you need more goals for an exciting game. I watch my fair share of games, probably close to 120-130 during the regulars season, and I have never once thought to myself, "hey, this game sucks". Even in games where there isn't end to end action, there is usually some physical stuff or good defensive plays and saves that are exciting in their own way.

NHL hockey is just fine the way it is being played. People need to stop trying to make it into pond hockey and enjoy the professionals play the game better than anyone else in the world.

 
At 12:37 PM, August 27, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Seriously, I'm hoping that the latest round of reductions in goalie equipment (including eliminating extra flaps) will make a difference.

No, no, not going to happen. I wouldn't advocate for larger nets if this was the answer.

We've watched the NHL fuddle with this goaltender equipment issue forever and it hasn't made a lick of difference.

 
At 2:16 PM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple:
21 teams
shorten the bench to 14 players
reduce number of games played (70ish)

solved


Steve

 
At 5:13 PM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Main determinants of low-scoring:

1. The increasing size of goalie equip't.
2. Clutch & grab not being penalized.

The NHL has done "ok" (not great) with respect to clutch & grab, which has allowed for more flow & faster play.

However, the NHL has been very weak on reducing the size of the goalie equip't. Why does a goalie need a glove that could catch 20 pucks at once? Police officers wear bullet proof vests that are 1/10 the size of goalie equipt!

Just reduce the size of the goalie equipt', & changing the net size becomes unnecessary. Players will be able to score from bad angles & longer distances again, which forces the defenders to spread out to try to cover those shots, leaving more room in the middle.

[The lower-scoring has nothing to do with "talent level" or # of teams... in the 80's people said the high-scoring was due to talent dilution, so how can the lower-scoring the the result of talent dilution? Besides, many minor leagues have had higher scoring than the NHL, & they are obviously lower in talent.]

 
At 7:22 PM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous Stephen G. said...

It kills me when I hear people say that goal scoring needs to go up.

Please, someone tell me why it needs to go up. Put something together that actually makes sense. I'm sick of reading about 'the casual fan' the NHL wants to gain. What about all of us die-hard fans? We don't matter any longer? We are the ones who are going to spend the money on merch, tickets, NHL Center Ice, ect...

Would it be nice to see a few more goals put in? Sure. But not at the risk of changing the game. Today's game has more offensively talented players than ever before. Why aren't they scoring more goals than ever before? Because the goaltenders are also better than they have ever been before.

Never before in the NHL have the average goaltender been so good. Take Ty Conklin for example. In the high scoring days if your starting goaltender was sidelined with an injury, then you were screwed. Your backup wasn't much more than a gapstop to give the starter a rest. In today's game, the Pens lose M.A.F. for an extended period of time, and all Conklin does is steal the show, and play lights out.

The problem isn't that not enough pucks are going in the net. The problem is really two things. First, as I said before, goalies are just plain better. Second, teams focus more on defense than ever before. How many many shots have you seen Gretzky or Mario rush to the point to block a shot? Not never. But today you see Ovechkin and Crosby making that sacrifice.

There is no problem with goal scoring. No change to equipment or the rules will make scoring go up. Players are more willing to go the extra mile, and goalies are better. End of story.

No matter how much you change the game, you will never please everyone. And the NHL isn't far away from seriously upsetting it's die-hard fans.

 
At 3:50 PM, August 28, 2008, Blogger knighttown said...

Steve G.:

As a fellow "die-harder" I completely disagree. I'm not going to debate who the bigger fan is but I feel many big hockey fans, including myself, are desparate for more goals. Or scoring chances. Semantics really. My choices:

1. Full time 4-on-4.
Not enough people on the ice for a "system" like the trap to be effective and everytime a d-man enters the rush there is the potential for a 2-on-1 the other way. Obviously unlikely b/c of the union but if hockey was invented this way 100 years ago life would be better.

2. Reduce roster size.

This is a problem in all sports (middle relievers, special teams players) and hockey is no exception. Maybe 10 forwards and 5 defense? More ice time for all players means more fatigue. Fatigue causes mistakes and mistakes make for exciting hockey.

3. Bigger nets

I don't know why this is controversial. Whether the nets get bigger or the goalies get smaller, it doesn't matter. I guarantee that if this was implemented, people wouldn't notice within two years. I do agree that more "garbage goals" would be scored but to me, that might actually stop the "collapse to the net" style of defense.

4. Call "goaltending"

Some astute basketball-mind foresaw how tall players would be able to defend the rim by swatting away balls about to go in and created the goaltending rule. The NHL could do the same. Perhaps an intentional move to get in front of a puck past the half way point of its journey is a goaltend? Or maybe, no one is to leave their feet to block a shot. Or just reduce shin pads to "pre-Ludwig" size and watch people scramble out of the way.

Many of these are far-fetched because of huge union issues but I bet the game would be much better.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link


.

Free Page Rank Checker
eXTReMe Tracker