Monday, January 16, 2006


Why? Why!!!!!

I know I've been a little stats-obsessed lately, but this question needs answering, and it should be of interest to every hockey fan. So I'll bring it up again:

Why is (per minute) even-strength scoring up by 20% while special teams scoring is not up at all? It confounds!

It's easy to justify why some rule change (or changes) is improving even-strength scoring. It's less easy, though still possible, to imagine why some change is helping ES scoring more than Special Teams scoring. But it is extremely difficult to explain why Change X (Y, Z, etc.) is helping ES scoring, but is not helping PP scoring whatsoever.

To take one example only, one might tend to attribute an increase in scoring overall this year to the smaller goalie equipment. But why isn't PP scoring up? If smaller goalie equipment really is making a difference, then some other change is negating that difference on the PP. What rule (or other) change is harming the PP? It confounds!

Your help is needed. In the comments to TB's post on this topic, a number of ideas have been tossed out, and mostly dismissed (judge for yourself).

One idea has been that there's been a big increase in ES goals in the seconds after a PP ends, because there has been so many more PPs. I did what I could to analyse this, and figured out that Maybe this accounts for 1-2% of the 20% increase. No dice.

Tom's idea, which is still under review, is that ES scoring is up, but PP is not, because of the handful of rules that reduce ES stoppages (but have little effect on PP stoppages): the no-change icing rule, tag-up offsides, no redline, etc.. He's guessing that this is resulting in (A) wearier players who can't get a change and (B) more bad line changes.

This seems kind of plausible, but his intuition says that these problems would be exacerbated in the 2nd period when it's even harder to get to the bench. Not so, say the numbers. ES/PP time is not readily available broken down by period, but overall scoring is actually up less in the 2nd period than it is in the 1st and 3rd. (1st: +28%, 2nd: +13%, 3rd: +24%).

Your help is needed. It confounds!

[Postscript: as previously noted, special teams scoring actually is up by 8.5% this season. But if you correct for the astounding 134% increase in 5-on-3 scoring, it is unchanged.]


I wonder if the offseason hurt the PP more than 5 on 5.

Does the pp rely on timing/chemistry that is more easily lost compared to 5 on 5?

Did the former powerhouses on the PP lose one or more key pp players in salary dumps?

Did the coaches just sit around all offseason and design better defensive schemes for the pk?

Just spitballing here.

My theory, and it is just that, a theory is this:

The bluelines were moved out 2 feet, and the goalines were moved in 2 feet, this created 4 more feet of room in the zone for an offence. Now, this extra room is great for 5-on-5 and for 5-on-3's because there is so much room to skate, especially for skilled shooters like Jagr, Staal, Ovechkin, etc. However, my theory states that the extra room is a hindrance for 5-on-4.

The basic premise of a 5-on-4 is to either get a point shot with traffic, or set up the one-timer. However, in the old NHL traffic in front of the net was cleared out by the big burly d-men courtesy of the good ol' cross-check. That is no longer allowed in the "new NHL", so does this lead to more goals? My theory says no.

Here's why: less room behind the net is a huge disadvantage to the power-play team, great puck handlers behind the net now have less room to move, and whats more, the "old-school" defenceman who previously was in front of the net cross-checking is now BEHIND the net harassing that player. With less room behind the net, this is a big advantage to the defence. So, this leads to less action behind the net, which leads to, in my opinion anyway, the easiest goal in hockey (a quick feed from behind the net to a player in front for a tap in) So, with no chance from behind the net, the puck goes to the point for the shot, and despite the smaller goal pads, the bigger difference is the more room on the ice, the more room gives the goalies more time.

In conclusion: less room behind the net + more room out in the open= obvious intent of the power play squad, and more time for the goalies to prepare for the long shot.


I like that theory. We need Madcrutch to tell use if the proportion of shots from different areas of the ice has changed.

Here's another suggestion, compare the top PP unit from 2003/04 (I'm guessing here, but I would say Naslund-Morrison-Bertuzzi-Jovo-Ohlund) with the top PP unit from this season so far. My bet is that you will see a huge difference in the two units and the styles they use.

Vancouver was huge behind the net getting the puck to Bertuzzi, and getting Naslund the puck at the hashmarks for the wrist-shot. As we see now with Vancouver, that no longer works for them.

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