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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
by Ken Campbell

It’s probably a little early to get too concerned about, but a trend that bears monitoring has emerged in the first week of the season.

After 38 games through Monday night, NHL teams had scored a total of 217 goals for a per-game average of 5.71. That’s almost 0.4 goals per game fewer than were scored in the first year of the new NHL last season.

If you remove the five artificial goals awarded to the winners of shootouts so far this season, the per-game average drops to 5.6, which is only about a half-goal per game better than the dead-puck era that preceded the lockout.

What’s even more astonishing is the number of shutouts that have been recorded in the early going.

Entering Tuesday night’s games, there had already been a total of eight shutouts. That puts the league on pace for a total of 259 this season, which is a whopping 140 more than 2005-06.

One reason for the drop is teams have proven to be far better on the penalty kill this season than last, even though they’re taking more penalties. Through Monday night, there had been 77 goals on 481 power play attempts. That projects out to a total of 2,492 goals on 15,569 attempts, compared to a total of 2,545 goals on 14,390 attempts last season.

All of which means the worst fears of many hockey observers may be coming to fruition. After a season of getting their bearings straight and simply trying to adjust to the new NHL, are NHL coaches beginning to find ways to disrupt the offensive flow?

Perhaps goaltenders, after one year of downsized equipment and reduced mobility, are also beginning to adjust to their new situations.

Whatever the case, the early returns that even with bigger curves in the sticks, there isn’t likely to be a massive explosion in offense over last season.
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