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Nhl Scoring Up, Parity Down But For How Long?


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Theres a bit of a trend I've noticed in the league for the last week or so, namely the amount of great teams there are.

10 teams are on pace for 100 points or more, in respective order of Points % (San Jose, Boston, Detroit, Washington, Montreal, Philly, Rangers, Calgary, Chicago and New Jersey).

Now obviously we're only halfway through the year so its too early to speculate (not to mention I think both the Rangers and Calgary are playing above their heads, but thats an argument for another day.)

Last year only 5 teams had 100 points, but wait, in 06-07, here was 11 and in 05-06 there was 10, so what gives am I just an idiot making a thread about nonsense? Its possible but if you think that do keep it to youself ;)

The point of all this, a trend I noticed from these 4 years the goals for (and against) per game.

05-06 3.09

06-07 2.95

07-08 2.78

08-09 2.88

In the year when there was the least scoring, there was also the least "elite" teams and much tighter standings. The proof?

In 05-06 the spread between the 4th and 8th seed was 17 points in the East and 11 in the West.

06-07 it was 12 in the East and 14 in the West.

07-08 it was 5 in the East and 8 in the West.

What does this all mean? It means more scoring means wider standings, a more open league translates into tiers of teams (true contenders, middle of the pack, medirocre etc.)

But the downward trend was alarming, the league was slowly becoming less open from 05-06 to 07-08, which my theory, as well as others is coaches learnt how to adapt to the "New NHL". So what did Bettman and Co. do to increase scoring? Why that handy dandy litle rule to always put the team that draws a penalty into the attacking zone. Here are the PP effciencies league-wide following that rule change:

05-06: 480 opportunities 17.68% conversion rate

06-07: 378 opportunties 17.58%

07-08 374 opportunities 17.75%

08-09 351 opportunities (over a 82 game span) 18.64%

What is alarming here for the league is how penalties are slowly declining even with that new rule change, however we can conclude that the end of the goals per game decline may be widely attributed to the near 1% increase in power play efficiency.

However how long can this last? If these PP opportunities decline trend continues, the rule change effect will cancel out and potentially in a year or 2 we may be back to the same cluster that was last years standings. What will the NHL do? Bigger nets perhaps, or more strict penalties, maybe even new penalties.

Whatever happens, I have a bad feeling about it.

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