The Dead Puck era. A “dark” time in hockey where scoring was down. Before the 1993-94 teams averaged 3.63 goals per game and games averaged 7.26 goals a game. From 1993 up until the lockout season of 2004-05 scoring went down. 2.56 goals per team and 5.12 goals per game were what the averages dropped too.
After the cancelled 2004-05 season goals went back up to just over six goals a game. Now here we are again ten years later and goals are back down to 5.3 per game. We could very well be in another dead puck era.
If you’re asking me, I don’t care. I don’t need scoring to entertain me. Most of the time low scoring tight games are way more interesting than 6-5 games where teams look awful and the games just look terrible.
That’s not how the majority of sports fans see things though. Look at the NFL, more offense has the NFL ratings as high as they can get, and yet they still seem to be going up. The casual fan loves scoring because, well, that’s kind of the point of sports. For the NHL it is hard to attract fans when on average there is only five scores a game. So, it has to be fixed.
How do you increase the scoring in hockey though? Recently thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock there has been discussion to make the nets bigger. To what, No one really knows. The current size of the goals are 6 feet wide by 4 feet high. Why make the nets bigger?
Goalies are taller and better these days. They are trained to be goalies from a very young age. Then add that the best goalies in the NHL today tend to be over 6’3. On top of all that you have pads that a too big on a big man guarding the goal. Shooters have very little to look at. Not only that you have players constantly going down onto the ice to block shots so a lot of goalies know that the puck is coming at them high and that’s eliminating the bottom half of the goal.
There you go, there is two ways to fix some scoring. Shrink the size of goalie pads to as small as you can while still protecting these guys from 100 mph pucks. And don’t let skaters/defenseman lay down to block shots. You can get on your knee but you have to be on your skates. How can you stop players from blocking shots? I’m not sure. Calling penalties seems harsh but you could call it interference since your interfering with the puck and you would get more power plays and more scoring chances.
Some more ways to increase scoring, I heard on Hockey Central at Noon on Sportsnet, making the puck smaller, make the long change in two of the three periods, you can’t give a teammate your stick when he breaks a stick mostly a winger to a center or a forward to a defenseman. Allow hand passes anywhere on the ice not just the DZone. All of those idea’s come from Hockey Central.
All of those ideas would be small changes that most hockey fans wouldn’t even notice. The only one that would not be changed is smaller pucks because people who don’t watch hockey already complain that they can’t find the puck, even though everyone has a big TV and a lot of people have HD TV, it’s harder to lose the puck these days than find it.
You could call more penalties. Call more hookings, if a guy even gets his stick up, call that a penalty, bury that stick in the ice and try to knock the puck off the stick. That would lead to more hooking calls and probably holding calls too. That would speed up the game a little more and open things up as well as lead to more penalties and more power plays and goals. And stick to those rules. Don’t let the refs forget about these calls just a couple of seasons later.
Last for me, get rid if these stupid no goal calls from these coaches challenges. We have seen way too many goals called back due to goaltender interference where the goalie isn’t even touched. Your game wants goals and these calls are calling goals back.
To go back to the initial way of how to increase scoring, bigger goals, that should not happen, there are plenty of other ways to help scoring. If you’re going to make the nets bigger it has to be a tiny number. Inches bigger if anything. But if you change the goal size you are messing with the game and the game doesn’t need to be messed with.