IT'S OFFICIAL: THE NEW NHL = MORE OFFENSE
According to statistics released this afternoon by the NHL, the new rules are having an effect on the scoresheet and quite possibly the stands. Through the first 40 games of the 2005-06 season, NHL teams were scoring more goals, taking more shots and generating more offense than through a similar period in 2003-04. Entering Monday's play, new rules and a new standard of enforcing them clearly had played a role in a significant upsurge in several statistical categories:
Goals Way Up
A total of 255 goals, an average of 6.4 per game, have been scored in 40 games. The figure represents a 41% increase over the average of 4.5 goals scored in the first 40 games of the 2003-04 season.
The goal-scoring increase is reflected in all on-ice situations -- even-strength goals are up 42%, power-play markers are up 40%.
Shots On Goal Way Up
Clubs have combined for an average of 58.9 shots per game, 13% above the corresponding 2003-04 figure of 52.3 shots.
Comebacks Way Up
Five clubs have overcome a two-goal deficit to win in the season's first 40 games, up 400% over the one club that had managed the feat through the corresponding number of games in 2003-04.
Late-Game Dramatics Way Up
There have been 10 go-ahead goals within last five minutes of regulation time, up 400% over the two such goals in 2003-04.
Attendance Way Up
A total of 706,936 fans have attended the 40 games, a per-game average of 17,673, 94.9% of capacity, and 6.2% above the corresponding 2003-04 figure of 16,643.
Overtime Goals Way Up
Four of the eight games that have gone to overtime have been decided in the extra period, double the two goals scored in the first eight OT games in 2003-04.
Shutouts Way Down
Goaltenders have recorded three shutouts in 40 games, 70% fewer than the 10 shutouts posted through 40 games in 2003-04, and Florida's Roberto Luongo had notched two of them (Ottawa's Dominik Hasek had the other).
Fighting Way Down
A total of 29 major penalties for fighting have been assessed, a drop of 40% over the 48 through 40 games in 2003-04. Twenty-nine of the 40 games, or 72.5%, have been fight-free.
Shootouts Creating Excitement, Storylines, Highlight Video
Ottawa Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek evoked memories of his dominant shootout performance for the Czech Republic against Canada in the semifinals of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in the first shootout in NHL history Wednesday. Hasek stopped Toronto's Jason Allison and Eric Lindros in consecutive attempts and Sens newcomer Dany Heatley clinched the victory with a goal on Ottawa's third attempt.
Carolina Hurricanes rookie goaltender Cam Ward, making his first career NHL start, enjoyed an unforgettable debut in a 3-2 shootout victory Friday against Pittsburgh. In front of a sellout crowd in Raleigh at the home opener, Ward blanked the formidable Penguins trio of Mario Lemieux, Zigmund Palffy and Sidney Crosby in the shootout.
Nashville Predators star free agent Paul Kariya, who scored a game-tying, third-period goal in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against San Jose on opening night, was the hometown hero for the second time in as many games Saturday against Anaheim. The clubs entered the shootout tied 2-2 and the first five penalty-shot attempts were unsuccessful. With the game on his stick, Kariya, the third Nashville shooter, skated in and beat Ducks goaltender J-S Giguere over the shoulder to win the game and delight the Nashville crowd.
Through 40 games in 2003-04, there had been only six tied games.