The NHL lied to us..they hate goals.

The playoffs are just around the corner and 16 cities are getting ready for the "Next" season as the regular season closes out. Most of the post-mortems will occur after teams get knocked out or the Cup is raised. While I wait for the year to close out, I have already been looking at start of year predictions and overall stats and already I have noticed a trend that seems to contradict the NHL party line that they want a higher scoring game. Some new rules have been put in to help increase offence:

- Expanded Offensive Zone
- Removal of the Center Red Line to Permit Longer Passes
- The "Tag-Up" Rule
- Reduced Goaltender Equipment Size
- Shootout to Decide Games

- Zero tolerance on Interference, Hooking and Holding/Obstruction


"The objectives of these new rules are: to let the skill players play; to increase the number and quality of scoring chances; to maintain the physicality of the game; to discourage the utilization of defensive-oriented "tools" in order to encourage more offense; and to provide a more entertaining product."

But yet:

1) No player will reach 100 points this year. This hasn’t happened in a regular season since 2003-04. In fact, we might not see anyone break 90 points. If no one reaches 87 points, the Art Ross winner would have won with the lowest total since 1967-68. (87 points – Stan Mikita)

2) I think the intent of getting rid of the center redline was that teams could now spring players for more breakaways, but most coaches run systems where all five players are deep in their defensive zone. Teams are just not inclined to "cherry-pick" like in 80’s.

3) One of the solutions to motivate coaches to play to score would be to change the point system. Many writers have said that a 3-2-1-0 system would force teams to look at the way they play the 3rd period and not just sit back play for overtime.

But I doubt any new point system will be passed as the NHL likes the parity in the Bettman point system. Look how close the races have been to get in, even though some teams have benefitted more from Bettman points than others. There would be no wild shift in the standings with a 3-2-1-0 system.

4) I think one of the main reasons for reduced scoring is the NHL wants faster games and therefore the referees are actually calling fewer penalties.

As of today, the Red Wings have been awarded the most Power Play opportunities (293 as of today). If you go back 10 years the highest total was 541 opportunities.

I find it hard to believe that today’s teams are that much more disciplined than 10 years ago. The drive of the league to keep games under 2 hours and 25 minutes for television and advertisers has had consequences on the way the game is called. And the point above: Zero tolerance on Interference, Hooking and Holding/Obstruction, is pure bullshit. Set pick plays are common. Defensemen may not be able to hit forwards after they dump the puck in, but they sure find ways to obstruct zone entries. The refs are just not calling plays that are penalties because if they followed the rule book to a tee, the game would be stopped far too often and the game would go past its T.V. time slot.

Maybe it’s time for the NHL to admit that parity is more important than high scoring games.

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