Tuesday night, 6 October has been my favorite night of the new NHL season so far.
That’s because NHL night number six serves as a testament to NHL parity. We say this because of seven games: two were decided by one goal; two won in OT; two more went to a SO; and the last game was a two-goal, see-saw decision. What may be causing this parity, you ask? We can only respond with ‘…Several things.’
Parity Reason #1 (P.R.1) – New Coaches and Coaching Staff
Some of this is inevitably due to the fact many teams are playing under a new coach and system and it takes time and game situation knowledge to make the adjustments more ‘normal’ to players on the ice. On 6 October, seven of the 14 teams playing were doing so under a new coach and staff.
P.R. #2 – Goaltending
Firstly, you have an issue with goaltending. The likes of none other than Brodeur, Luongo and Nabokov who normally reign supreme in the NHL have been a good measure less than stellar. When they are winning, their teams are practically unbeatable. As of 6 October, however, VAN was 0-3 with Luongo getting the gaff in one game, NJD was 0-2, and SJS was 1-1 with Nabokov pulled in the 2nd Period of the 6 October Sharks/Kings game. The question for this P.R. is when will these netminders find their sea legs and change the early fortunes of their teams? Luongo may have answered with his solid performance on the 7th of October, but Nabokov is still erratic and Brodeur’s only victory required a Shootout against Tampa Bay.
P.R. #3 – Goal Scoring
The average winning margin through 6 October was 1.84375 goals per game. Interestingly, 22 of 59 games (37.3%) through 6 October were decided by two goals or less. Just for reference, last season’s first six nights yielded an average winning margin of 1.8387 goals per game with 26 of 31 games (or 83.9%) decided by two or less goals. Sounds like last season was more ‘pare,’ but it is also not lost on OGA that three of seven games included a point in the game where one team came back from a two-goal deficit to make the game interesting. The OTT @ TOR game ended 2 – 1 in a SO where no two-goal deficit was ever reached. But the remaining three games never held more than a one-goal deficit between opponents at any given time.
P.R. #4 – Special Teams/Circumstances
Through the games of 9 October, 63 of 306 goals – 20.6% - have been scored by one or the other special teams on the ice. On the night of the 6th, 26 of 49 total goals (53.1%) were scored some way other than even strength and in regulation time.
So new coaches and systems, goaltending issues, goal scoring methods and special teams or circumstances combined to make 6 October a night of parity in the NHL. Wow!
Highly entertained, we at OGA ask the NHL for nights like 6 October!