The NHL score has increased, but that is likely to change in the playoffs

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The NHL teams went into the final weekend of the regular season with an average of 3.14 goals per game, the highest average in 26 years. Four players scored at least 50 goals, including Toronto’s Auston Matthews, the first player to reach the plateau with 60 goals since Steven Stamkos in 2012.

How to explain all the target horns and flashing lights? The rise is not driven by power-play goals, though average NHL power-play scored 20.6 percent of the time as they went into the weekend, a success rate higher than any of those published in more than three decades. But the number of power-play options – 2.9 per. hold per The average number of power-play goals per match has been relatively flat in the last decade, fluctuating between 0.57 and 0.61 per game. hold per match. This season fits right in, with teams averaging 0.60 power-play goals.

Instead, it seems that increased skills across the board, better utilization of players and an improved awareness of the high-risk areas for scoring chances have driven the tip.

The expected target rate per 60 minutes at steady strength is the highest it has been since the metric was first tracked in 2007-08. Expected target rate takes into account shot quality and quantity, suggesting that teams learn the value of high-risk areas such as. the square and the fold. Shots on the net that originate from the gap or folds, combined with the off-rebounds, are higher than in recent times.

Defenders have also been more active in the offensive zone. Three blue-liners – Victor Hedman, Roman Josi and Cale Makar – came into Saturday’s matches on their way to play at least half of the season, while on average they had at least one point per game. match. This is the first time there have been so many defenders at or above one point per game. match in a season since 1995-96 in which Hall of Famers Ray Bourque, Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov hit the target. There were also 64 defenders with at least 30 points, the most in the league’s history.

As exciting as it has been, do not expect the increased scoring to be transferred to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The goalkeeping team among the teams that did not qualify for the playoffs was overall below average. Take away the weaker net reminders and goal scoring should fall.

The bottom eight teams in save percentage did not qualify for the off-season and only two of the top eight teams will miss the playoffs. Teams eliminated from the match had an average ranking of 22nd in save percentage, while teams competing for the Stanley Cup had an average ranking of 11th.

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As a group, the goalkeepers who watched the playoffs from home produced a combined 0.912 save percentage on equal strength. The combined save percentage for playoff teams is 0.920. It’s a huge difference – the same as the difference between the 12th and 24th best teams this season.

How these goalkeepers fared during the penalty shootout also provides a stark contrast. Non-playoff qualifiers had an average save rate of .859 compared to conflicting power plays, while playoff goalkeepers produced a save percentage of .871.

Furthermore, with a few exceptions, the goal scoring drops annually when the playoffs begin. Since the league came out of the lockout in 2005, there have only been three postseasons where goals per game increased in the playoffs: 2010, 2011 and 2014. Every other year saw a decline when the regular season ended, averaging about 7 percent. A 7 percent drop this season would equate to 2.9 goals per game. match.

A matchup can be particularly low-scoring. The New York Rangers, with Igor Shesterkin in the net, will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins and goalkeeper Tristan Jarry in the opening round. Shesterkin led the league in save percentage (0.935) and saved 45 more goals than an average netminder would have expected this season. Jarry finished seventh in save percentage (0.919) and stopped 21 more goals than expected – but has been out of the game with a lower body injury. The teams played four times and scored an average of 3.8 goals per game. match, just under half of the league average.

That series is perhaps the most extreme. But fans who enjoyed this year’s scoring outburst should dampen their expectations now that the second season is near.

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