The Red Light District

Jonathan Quick
We’re only a few weeks into the season and we’ve already seen a huge increase in scoring around the league. But why have teams been scoring so much more?

Great Scott!! Did we hop in the Delorian and travel “back to the future”?! Goals are being tossed around like it’s the 80’s all over again. Ok, so maybe the goals aren’t quite coming in like Mario and Gretzky are still playing. But seriously, they haven’t been scored at this pace in a very long time.

11 years to be exact. What we’re seeing right now is exactly what the NHL and us fans have been asking for, for years. Well maybe not if you’re last name is Luongo, Price, or Rask haha. But let’s face it, we are definitely seeing an offensive explosion right now. Exciting times for sure.

So just how many goals are being scored exactly? Almost six per game, yes you read that right, six! After two weeks of play into the 2016-17 season, there’s an average of 5.98 goals being scored each game. Which is up by 0.68 goals over the 5.3 average of the last five years. So what’s the reasoning for all of this? I mean it’s not like the league has trimmed and slimmed up the goalie equipment like they’ve been talking about tinkering with for what seems like forever now. The nets aren’t bigger like some critics have suggested doing, and the NHL didn’t incorporate international sized rinks into their plans either. So what is it that has the “red lights” working overtime this season? Sorry Roxanne, but you “do” have to put on the red light…and much to our excitement.

There’s a lot of theories floating out there right now as to why we’re seeing such a huge increase in offensive production this early in the season. One is that a lot of NHL players (168 to be exact) participated in this summer’s World Cup of Hockey, allowing them to jump right into high octane, fast paced action instead of starting off in the much slower pace of the preseason. That could fairly well be a part of the reasoning, just look at the Sweden vs North America game as a reference. That game was incredibly fast and exciting, I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever seen a game played at such a rapid pace, and in September at that. You won’t see that in the preseason ladies and gentlemen, EVER!

Another theory that’s making it’s rounds is the absolute massive influx of younger players over the last few years. It’s true the league has gotten a lot younger (16 teenagers in the league at the moment), and these youngsters are bringing some brilliantly insane talent levels with them. Think about it like this; Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have both had turns leading the league in scoring already in this young season. You also have to figure that a lot of the goalies in the league haven’t quite got a good read on some of these kids yet due to limited scouting reports, and that has to factor in for a few goals.

Speaking of goalies, there’s also a few backup’s playing big minutes right now due to injuries (IE: Jonathon Quick, Tuukka Rask, etc..), which will definitely account for a few more red light’s flashing.

The NHL schedule may also be a reason that we’re seeing more goals being scored. As the season is a little compressed due to the World Cup, so we’re seeing a lot more back-to-back’s this year. Which means the backup goalie theory kicks in again, and we’re also seeing more goalies playing tired after playing back-to-back games.

Time’s they are a changing, the league seems to be shifting towards one that focuses more on skill and finesse. And of course speed, we all know that “speed kills”. So with more skill around, obviously more goals are being scored. But it also means more risk with the puck is also involved, and more risk usually translates into more goals for both sides. Think about it, how many times this year already have you seen players try a dangerous, risky play, and then lose the puck? Only to have the opposing team gain the puck, turn around and score. Risk can have rewards for sure, but it’s called a “risk” for a reason.

Whether it’s the young phenoms lighting it up, players being in mid-season form due to playing in the World Cup, or the fact that so many backup goalies are playing more minutes. Many experts around the league expect this “phenomenon” to normalize around mid-season, but until that happens, treat it like a trip to Amsterdam, and enjoy the “Red Light District”.

Stay trippy my friends!

As always, you can chat, debate, and follow me on Twitter @kosmicburrito

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