Peter Leventakis, Montreal
The NHL has been trying to tweak the game for the past 15 years to increase scoring. They have removed the red line, instituted smaller equipment for goalies and have introduced the dreaded penalty for shooting the puck over the glass.
All these have helped the game, but I believe they are missing something that is so easy to do and won’t change the game at all. What I am suggesting is find a way to prevent injuries.
This season we have seen an unusual amount of big superstars out with injuries and their teams suffer because they can’t put up goals.
Take, for instance, Marc Savard and the Boston Bruins. Since his injury, the Bruins have been in a slump where they have scored 30 goals in 11 games for a ratio of 2.72 GPG. But with him in the lineup they have been scoring 2.88 GPG; an increase of about 5 percent.
What’s the big deal, you might say? The big deal is when you factor that in for an entire year, 5 percent more goals would have given the NHL an average of 6.11 goals scored per game last year instead of 5.82.
As we already know, the league is obsessed with getting over the six-goals-per-game mark as they deem it as the breaking point between exciting and boring hockey.
If you want an even better example, take the injury to Evgeni Malkin. With him in the lineup the Penguins score an average of 3.68 GPG. When he is not in the lineup, that drops to 1.71; a drop of almost 50 percent.
The numbers don’t lie here; keeping players healthy is the key to increasing scoring league wide.
All that being said, the next question that arises is how do we prevent injuries?
Their isn’t a shortage of opinions on this one, but here are a few: prevent head shots and cheap shots by having hefty penalties, shorten the pre-season, better shot blocking protection, better medical screening practices (more proactive instead of reactive) and, last but not least, a better or a more universal conditioning program.
This is definitely something that should be looked at when the GMs meet. The evidence is plenty that when your team is fully healthy your team performs better on ice.
Why not increase scoring this way?