It's the penalties, stupid

Yesterday I wrote that scoring is up 25% over the first hundred games. Today, I will examine the reasons why. I looked at shots per game, shooting percentage, penalties per game and powerplay efficiency. Each is up. However, not surprisingly it is penalties per game that seems to be having the greatest effect on the game. Amazingly, even strength goals per game are up only 3% this year.

The most telling stat is that last season 65% of goals were scored at even strength. This season, the number has dipped to 56.5% of goals. Special teams goals are becoming a much more important part of the game. Why did powerplay goals increase by so much? Because penalties per game are up.

Here are the stats:

Goals per game up 25% vs 2003

even strength goals per game 1.75 vs 1.7 up 3%

special teams goals per game 1.35 vs 0.87 up 55%

shots per game game 29.5 vs 28 last year up 5%

shooting percentage 10.5% vs 9.2% up 15%

penalty min/game/team 17.1 vs 14.9 up 15%

powerplay efficiency 17.2% vs 16.4% up 5%

Yes, every scoring related stat is up. However, it is telling that even strength goals per game are up only 3%. It’s all about drawing penalties and having a great powerplay.

The implications are obvious. Coaches will bench any player who takes an unneccessary penalty. Penalties per game will likely decline at least marginally. Teams will spend much more time practicing the power play. Due to the large number of powerplays per game, second units will become much more important. The big beneficiaries: shooting defencemen and shot tippers. It is becoming very difficult to clear the crease without drawing a penalty. Big bodies who can stay in front of the net will rack up the powerplay goals.

12 Responses to It's the penalties, stupid

  1. hockeyhead says:

    i think the game is great. being able to come back from 2 goals down at any time is awesome.

    having goalies swing a break away pass across three quarters of the rink….spectacular.

    calling all obstructions…terrific.

    the game is better and OLN does a nice job covering it with post game shows and replays an hour after the game has ended.

    long live my NHL

    now if the bruins could get healthy everything would be dandy.

  2. tannerpeake says:

    you missed PP opportunities per game per team. It was up to 6.77 vs 4.23 in 03-04. thats about a 60% increase if my maths right, very similar to the increase of pp goals/game. id say give a deviation of about 5-10%, so these are really the only markedly increased scoring stats, which directly caused the increase of goals/game.

    shooting percentage–smaller goalie pads, reduced about 11% i think, means about 11% more shots should get by.

  3. habsoverserver says:

    Thanks for the data on pp’s per game. I wasn’t able to find that in any of the databases I checked. I used penalty min per game which I think move similarly to powerplays per game.

    Shooting pct is up by 11% but even strength goals are flat. The smaller goalie padding combined with shooters being able to stand in the crease means more tip ins and deflections. This occurs most often on the powerplay. I don’t think the smaller padding has changed the game at even strength. We’re not seeing enough of an increase in even strength goals to say that the padding is a factor 5 on 5.

    Reducing the padding by 11% doesn’t mean 11% more goals will get by. Most goals are blocked by gloves,stick,skate, post or crossbar. 11% more shots that hit the goalie’s padding will result in goals.

  4. jimbojones123 says:

    Follow my logic. Last year hockey games were 45.1 minutes long at 5-on-5. this year the games 42.8 minutes long. SO even though goals may only be up 3%, that’s for games with longer 5-on-5 time. so — more goals over a shorter time period should mean 5-on-5 goals are actually up more than the 3% indicated. if there is a bean counter on the site that really wants to calculate it — be my guest… but it should be much more than just 3% if talking about actual 5-on-5 goals per minute played.

  5. jimbojones123 says:

    OKAY NERDISH — 5-on-5 time is only 95.37% of what it used to be… so 1.7 goals is 1.62 goals respectivly — SO 1.62 goals compared to 1.75 would be an 8% increase per minute played

  6. PSU_Penguin says:

    It’s hard to get exact numbers on all that. It given the number of even strength goals, which could be for 5-on-5, 4-on-4, or even 3-on-3. We also have the penalty minutes per game but that doesn’t mean that is the total power play time per game. If two guys get in a fight then that’s 5 min of penalties but it remains at even strenght; or if there are coincidental minors or two minors that elapse each other then it’s 4-on-4 for a time. I may be a bean counter but I’m too lazy to go digging for stants. If someone comes up with the stats for time on PP as opposed to jsut penalty minutes I’ll gladly do the math.

  7. tannerpeake says:

    yes, but how more frequent is 4-on-4 or 3-on-3? if 4 on 4 is like 2 or 3 minutes more per game on average now, then ES time is about a wash. ES goals are not just 5 on 5.

  8. AbeOdd says:

    This seems a little off, sorry. I think you are comparing the first 100 games stats to an entire seasons 2400+ games stats. Remeber every year the first couple of weeks there are always loads of calls from the Refs, then things settle in. Unless we can get the data for the first 100 games of 03-04 then proper comparison is just not there. Time will tell I guess!


  9. markjohnston says:

    what you need to think about is this:

    5 ON 5 GOALS ARE UP (even though it’s only slightly) EVEN THOUGH THE 5 ON 5 TIME HAS BEEN CUT BIG TIME.

    in other words, more 5 on 5 goals are being scored in LESS time.

    that, aside from the PP goals being up, is a sign that scoring is up up up.

  10. markjohnston says:

    pardon me, two guys already pointed this out =D

  11. Kraut182 says:

    And how do you account for time lost on powerplays due to goals being scored? Even strength scoring (per minute) may be up, but with our resources its pretty much impossible to find out how much even strength time teams have now compared to last year.

  12. habsoverserver says:

    As some of you have pointed out, there is less even strength ice time this year than 03-04. However, it’s near impossible on a league wide basis to calculate the year over year change. I’m not sure the NHL keeps that stat.

    It is inaccurate to suggest that if there are two more penalty mins per game there are two min less of even strength ice time. First of all, this does not include offsetting penalties. Secondly, it doesn’t include five on three’s. Anecdotally, I think 5 on 3’s are up significantly this year. If I can get the data from the NHL I will post an update on this.

    No matter how you slice it, the vast vast majority of the increase in scoring is from the powerplay.

    What’s not yet clear to me is if are players getting a different mix of ice time. Logically, a third liner/penalty killer is now seeing much more pk ice time and less even strength ice time. A first line player is getting more pp ice time and less even strength. This would matter to anyone in a hockey pool. You have to figure that if your player is stuck on more pk’s they will have fewer scoring opportunities. Similarly, I commented a couple weeks ago that players such as Andreychuk who score over 50% of their goals on the pp could see big increases in their goal totals this season.

    Thanks for your comments.

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