Why goals are down (hint: it's not rocket science)

Goals are down again in the NHL, and now there’s talks at GM meetings about re-instituting the red-line rule in an effort to generate more offense.

This is a monumentally stupid solution. Not just because the r allows teams to clog up the neutral zone (we’ve been through this remember) but speed through the neutral zone isn’t why goals are down.

The answer’s much simpler than that and the blame can be dished out to a party everyone has no problems scapegoating anways. As always, it’s the referee’s fault.

More specifically the lack of penalties that referees call every subsequent year.

Daniel Wagner of Backhand Shelf  looked at how many fewer penalties referees are calling this year as opposed to last year. They are on pace for 200 fewer hooking calls, and 100 fewer total. This got me thinking, so I decided to look at PP time across the league.

Here’s the ~Median PP time for a team over the last 6 seasons:

11-12: 440 min (projected)
10-11: 465 min
09-10: 500 min
08-09: 561 min
07-08: 573 min
06-07: 669 min

So, among the median NHL team, the PP time has dropped nearly 230 min (1/3) over six seasons. That’s the equivalent of just under 4 full games of pp time the median team has lost a season. No wonder scoring is down.

If people remember, during the lockout the NHL decided that they needed to call more penalties to increase offense. The season before the lockout, the median PP time for a season was: 585 minutes. So PP time right now is down nearly 25% from when the NHL recognized that it was not enough to begin with.

This season the Philadelphia Flyers are projected to have the most PP this season at 566 minutes, which would put them below the median PP time the season before the lockout.

the Colorado Avalanche are on pace for just 370 PP minutes this season, which would put them at the lowest amount since the league started keeping track in 02-03. It would also be nearly 35 minutes (almost two whole periods) less than the New Jersey Devils, who were last last season.

So before we try nonsense like changing rules and re-instituting the neutral zone clog, I mean redline, can we please just try calling the rules that are on the books more often.