Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
I'm an old-school kinda guy. I hate the DH in baseball and love the way the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors play team basketball as opposed to the more individualized street-ball. So I get when traditionalist bark about "the roots and/or essence of the game" and "messing with tradition."
Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma was on WGR this morning and when asked about changing the size of the net, he was opposed, saying they should look at goalie equipment and calling penalties as they did after the 2004-05 lockout. He's not against angling the posts either to direct more shot into the net off of the iron.
And that's fine. Players and coaches can rail against the increased net size all they want, because they're ice-level and they would notice a change like that. But fans? Really? I guarantee that 95% or more of fans couldn't tell the difference. Adding one inch to a 72-inch width amounts to a 1.3% increase while adding one inch to the 48" height equates to a 2% increase and if I put one traditional net at one end of the rink while at the other end is a net increased by one inch, I challenge any fan to sit in any seat in the building and tell me that they notice the difference.
Bylsma talked about the play of the game itself and how penalties aren't being called the way they were just after the 2004-05 lockout. He thinks calling the game using the rulebook will help in the goal-scoring department, which it will, but it's somewhat artificial.
According to hockeyreference.com teams averaged 5.85 powerplay opportunities (PPO) per game in 2005-06 while last season it was only 3.06. Teams scored and average of 1.03 powerplay goals per game in '05-06 (17.68% of the total) last season it was .57 PPG (18.66%.) In reference to the overall number of goals scored, in the 2005-06 season powerplay goals represented 33% of the 3.08 goals/game while last season it was 20% of the 2.73 goals/game.
The highest scoring season in the NHL was during the 1981-82 season when the league averaged 4.01 goals per game. Teams scored an average of .91 PPG. on 4.00 PPO for a conversion rate of 22.85%. The .91 PPG represented 22.7% of the total goals scored.
More powerplays mean more goals overall for obvious reasons, but the conversion rate in 1981-82 was much higher than the 2005-06 season and superior to most seasons after the conversion rate dipped below 20% in 1990-91.
Make no mistake, the 80's were a golden era of post-expansion hockey and the names playing the game were many and legendary. But part of the reason for their gaudy numbers is due to goalie equipement and goalies themselves.
Take a look for yourself at the images of Tom Barrasso, Eddie Belfour and Martin Brodeur from when they were rookies to the end of their careers, or if you want you can click on a blog I did back in August, 2010 entitled Why is scoring not like it once was in the NHL? See for yourself.
Not only there more equipment, but the goalies are also bigger.
Back in 1981-82 here are some of the leaders in goals against average:
--Rick Wamsley (MTL,) 5'11" 185 lbs.
--Billy Smith (NYI,) 5'10" 185
--Grant Fuhr (EDM,) 5'10" 201
--Richard Brodeur (VAN,) 5'7" 170
And others like Roggie Vachon (BOS) at 5'7" 170 lbs. or Buffalo's own Don Edwards 5'9" 160 and Bob Sauve 5'8" 178.
Go ahead, look at the images or the video.
Or check out this NHL, History Will Be Made, ad featuring Wayne Gretzky going in on Smith.