Of course, scoring is down this year. Throughout this season so far (in the period leading up to Tuesday), there has been an average of 5.32 goals scored per game. That’s down from the 5.46 goals scored throughout the entirety of last season. In 2003-2004, the league averaged 5.14 goals per game.
It’s obviously hard to determine the efficacy of a game based on one metric alone, but the cry for “more goals” has pretty much been a constant in some circles. This has meant that a number of ideas have been batted around, from altering goaltender equipment to increasing the size of the nets to who knows what else.
This time around, it seems that the size of goalie pads will be reduced for 2016-2017.
“There are a number of items on the board, and as you know it’s the pads, the blocker, the catcher, the upper body, the pants and the sweater,” said NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and John Shannon. ”And the sweater will go in unison with the upper body.”
Campbell admitted that he wasn’t sure that scoring is that big of a deal, but added that part of the issue is looking at what happens when teams are trailing. This season, teams are 21-127-14 when trailing going into the third period. Rather than assume that as part of quality defensive play and/or rewarding the ability to hold a lead, the insistence is that something has to change.
“I don’t think the game needs more goals, I think the game needs more opportunity for lead changes,” Campbell said. “If you go down one or two goals, even three, you need the opportunity to come back. The game shouldn’t be over. You should be able to tie up another team.”
The general managers are pleased with how scoring has increased in overtime and the three-on-three format has been generally well-received across the board. 70 percent of the games going into overtime this season have ended in overtime, up from just 44.4 percent last season.
The coach’s challenge is generally liked in theory, too, but there are some discussions about how to implement it. Some are suggesting that reviews are done in the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto rather than having the referees handle it, but nothing has been hammered out quite yet. There will be a vote on the possibilities in March.