| Hopefully you didn't
New rules help scoring already
by Derick Bellamy
If you did, you probably missed a goal.
In fact, you might have missed two. There were 13 of them. And, though the
Sharks ended up winning 7-6 with a late goal from Jonathan Cheechoo, while
bringing their record up to 1 and 2, this still begs the question: what should
one expect this season, from San Jose as well as the rest of the NHL?
Is it the two-line passes, the goalie not being allowed to leave his trapezoid
if he's behind the net, the bigger offensive zones, and all the other new rules
that caused us to be reminded of good not-that-old 80s hockey? Is this a
scoring game again, and like the Penguins Website said after they signed Sidney
Crosby, 'A Good Day For Hockey'?
One might say that the era beginning in 1968 (expansion) is now over because of
the influence of the lockout. Or maybe the era we're leaving behind began in
1995, which is when the first (and shorter) lockout took place, and is often
considered to be the year that scoring started really going down; New Jersey's
famous defense did sweep Detroit in the finals that year. Lastly, we just might
find that hockey's not going to be very different. Despite San Jose's
high-scoring win last night, that would probably be good for them.
Last year, San Jose averaged 2.2 goals against them per game, with 2.67 for
them. The league overall had a 2.55 goals per game average. This shows that San
Jose's defensive advantage was more than twice as large as its offensive
So far this season there's been an average of 6.5 goals per game in the NHL.
Or, if you want a typical score to imagine, think of a 4 to 3 game, or a 3.25
to 3.25 tie. Last year, there was an average of 5.1 goals per game, which can
be represented by a 3 to 2 (or 2.5 to 2.5) score. That's a difference of two
goals per game, or one per team per game.
The new rules were set up as to allow more scoring, which, as shown above, is
what's happened so far. After a 3-2 loss, a 6-3 loss, and a 7-6 win, it's
evident that San Jose isn't scoring less (4 per game instead of 2.7,) but that
the other teams are simply scoring more (5 per game instead of 2.2.) This
suggests that the new rules aren't good for a defensive team, no matter how
young and fast they are. Maybe after coming 3rd in the league, the improving
Sharks were cut out to succeed in the old NHL.
If their problem is in fact the new rules, San Jose will have to learn to
become accustomed to the changes when they're defending their own zone, if they
expect an improvement after their lackluster beginning. Which, considering the
superfluously higher scoring, is probably something that everyone's going
through (though the extent of the increase shows that at least some of the
higher scoring will almost certainly persist.) The adjustment could just be
going worse for them than others so far. They can only hope that things won't
end up very different from last year.
Evgeni Nabokov also hasn't been doing too well in net lately, at an
embarrassing 38th place in the NHL for Save Percentage. Vesa Toskala, the
back-up who played just as well as Nabokov last year, is technically last at
43rd, though he's only played for about one period (at the beginning of the
Chicago game.) Maybe their goalies have to become accustomed to the new rules
Lastly, if The Sharks are going to succeed, they'll also need to exploit the
new system, seeing as scoring is going to stay at least partially up. They'll
need to continue the kind of scoring they were able produce last game, even on
nights when they aren't going up against goalies who are having the worst game
of their career, such as St.Louis's Patrick Lalime on Saturday. They also can't
expect to continue to edge by 7-6; they won't be able to score seven goals all
Despite all of this doubt, their fans should remember that they did technically
win the third game, as well as that the season just began. One should remember
that there's reason for them to stay optimistic. And, like any situation in
hockey, if the Sharks want to succeed, the most important thing is that they do
the same. Remember when they went from 73 points to 104 points? Or when they
got those 104 points last season despite finishing October under .500? The
defense rests (hopefully theirs won't.)
|What did you think of
this article? Post your comments on the