Editors Note: Numbers do not include Sunday Night’s games.
The 2014-15 NHL season is closing out to a finish with teams getting ready for the last leg of games. When looking over the individual stats from this season, one scoring lover could notice something. There is no player on track to pass 100 points. The closest is John Tavares, with 70 points in 67 games played. His on pace is 86 points, which would be tied for the lead among all skaters. Evgeni Malkin is also on pace for 86, followed by Alex Ovechkin at 85, with teammate Nicklas Backstrom and Sidney Crosby on pace for 84.
Art Ross Trophy Winner On Pace for Lowest Total since 1968 (non-lockout years)
If there isn’t a 100 point scoring forward for this season, it would mark the first full season, excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13, since the 2003-04 season when there was no 100 point season by a skater. Martin St Louis led the league with 38 goals and 94 points in ’03-04. The former Tampa Bay winger also led the league in the aforementioned lockout year with 17 goals and 60 points in 48 games.
Since ’03-04 there have been 25 100-point seasons accomplished by 15 skaters, with Sidney Crosby leading the way at five since coming into the league 2005-06. If he didn’t run into injury troubles from 2010-2013, when he played a combined 99 games out of 212, it could have been more times than five. Crosby is currently sitting at 66 points in 61 games and should hit his mark of 84 or better.
So what is the cause of this lowered scoring? Looking back at the past 2-3 seasons after lockout years, you’ll notice that scoring jumped. 1994-95 saw just 48 games being played and there were two 70 point scorers, Jaromir Jagr and Eric Lindros.
The next year saw Mario Lemieux absolutely tear it up with 161 points in 70 games and 11 other players were able to notch 100 points at least, with two 99 point grabbers. In 96-97 there were only two members of the 100 point club, Lemieux once again and some guy named Teemu Selanne.
When you look at the 2004-05 post-lockout numbers, they seem high for that era. Three 120 point getters in two seasons in the mid 2000s? That was rare. Then boom. By 2007-08, it was dried up to two to three 100 point players a season. 2010-11 saw Daniel Sedin‘s Hart trophy campaign become the only 100 point season with 104. But after the recent lockout, the pattern has taken a different turn, going from 60 in lockout year to one 104 point getter to being in danger of no 100 point or even 90 point season for 2014-15.
Looking at goalie stats from the past five years, there isn’t much difference. This year may see some lower numbers, especially on GAA with Carey Price being the only goalie below 2.00 through 58 games. Even 2011-12 saw five goalies get under 2.00 for GAA. Save percentage, shots on net, and saves are right around par, give or take a couple percentage points.
Overall goals per game, along with number of 100 point, and 90 point scorers are as follows for the last six full NHL seasons (and the lockout shortened year):
|Games||GPG (Team)||GPG (combined)||100 Point Scorers||90 Point Scorers|
|2014-15 Season||980||2.75||5.50||(0) – On pace||(0) – On pace|
|2012-13 Season||720||2.72||5.44||(0) – 48 games||(0) – 48 games|
So what is going on here? There are a number of possible explanations
A combination of coaches rolling with three to four scoring lines, rather than goons or only hitters in the bottom six, the somewhat new “top nine group” rather than top six, and some goalies playing better, make for a low scoring season.
Another issue is the number of powerplays per game. These have slowly and steadily fallen since the 05-06 season. While the total number of goals have dropped slightly the percentage of those goals that came from powerplays has fallen even more. Since teams heavily focus on a relatively small number of players on the powerplay, but are rolling their lines more at even strength this could mean that the scoring is more spread out.
It is an anomaly that the scoring is down, while goalies being average and scoring isn’t spread out evenly. The highest scoring forward, as of when this article was written, had 70 points and was on pace for 85. If the scoring lead is indeed 84-85 points, it will be the lowest scoring total for the Art Ross winner in a full season since 1967-68 with Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita scoring 87 points, and at that time the league only had 12 teams.
One theory could be the strict salary caps these days, along with skaters’ worth skyrocketing. Patrick Kane’s contract in 2015-16 will count for 18% of the Hawks cap, providing it stays at 70 million. Add in Jonathan Toews’s contract and you have a whopping 36% for two players. On most teams, that 36%, give or take, would be allotted to the bottom lines. So it can be understandable for some teams that are right up against the cap to have low scoring, but league wide? Highly unlikely.
The 2014-15 season may be one for the record books in terms of low scoring, but there are still at least 19 games left for some teams, and the Penguins, Capitals, and the Islanders, where the top scoring forwards play, all have 15 games left at least. Points fluctuate all the time, point streaks are started, multi point games are racked up. So unless the rest of the 2014-15 season is a boring one in terms of scoring, it’s a safe bet 90 points should be attainable. 100 is out of the question, unless Tavares scores 2 or more points in every game. But 85 won’t be the scoring lead. If it is, then the NHL has a problem.
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UNIONDALE, NY – FEBRUARY 19: New York Islanders center John Tavares #91 celebrates a goal against the Nashville Predators during their game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on February 19, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)