One of the hottest debates in hockey right now is the state of scoring goals. Should they find a way to increase goal scoring or keep it similar to the current scoring environment? Should the nets be bigger or make the pads smaller? In this week's segment of Bass vs. Bosman, the two writers will be debating the topic on high and low scoring and what's better for the sport of hockey.
Bosman: Nothing compares to a tight low scoring game. The game hanging in the balance, and the win up in the air for anyone who can get the last goal. Having to pull the goalie in an attempt to even the score and force overtime. Those games are the truest form of hockey and you can’t help but love it. The game is fine the way it is and is full of excitement. One way to improve scoring chances would be to call more penalties, but it would slow the game down with too many stops and starts. I like the way the game flows and there are plenty of high intensity moments the way it is now.
Bass: I agree that a tight, low scoring game can be exciting to watch, but they are typically not that exciting unless it is a playoff game with a lot on the line. A perfect example of a low scoring game that wasn't exciting, was the recent Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks game. It went into overtime at 0-0 and didn’t get exciting until the overtime because of the Sharks power play and then 3-on-3. Those tight games are only fun to watch if there are a lot of scoring chances with great goaltending. Calling more penalties is a bad idea to increase scoring chances, but maybe seeing what no offsides would do for scoring chances would be intriguing. It’s just a thought, but it would be interesting to see what it did to the game in an experimental game.
Bosman: In the Sharks, Flyers game there were big saves and it was a goalie, those games can bring the goalie fans to the edge of their seats. Another example was the Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers game. It ended 3-1 and it took an empty netter to increase the lead. If the NHL can find a way to make more tight, low scoring games, it would benefit. Hockey has never been a high scoring sport. It's not basketball or football, your not going to see double figure scoring consistently and it’s for the betterment of the sport. It’s not soccer either. Hockey has a nice balance and with lots of hits, big saves and highlight reel goals, there's tons of action to watch. Goalies are getting better and better, that’s a huge reason why these games are tight, low scoring affairs. They are more athletic, have better reflexes and are always striving to get better.
Bass: Games would never need to be in the double digits for scoring, but shifting the average score of a game from 2-1 to 4-3 could be an exciting thing for hockey. It could bring in more fans from other sports and potentially make hockey a bigger market. A slight increase in scoring wouldn't turn away current fans, but it would bring in more from the outside. Goalies pads are huge. The point of pads is to ensure they are protected. Pads should be as small as possible without sacrificing protection. Nothing is more exciting than watching some amazing dekes by the NHL stars be capped off with a goal. Saves are exciting too, but they don't bring people off their feet quite like a highlight reel goal does.
Bosman: The average goals per game is roughly 5.24 goals per game this year. Before the salary cap era, the goals per game was around 7.25 in 1992. That's a lot of 4-3, 5-3 games. Shrinking the goalie pads will only work for so long. Goalies are too good and train to hard these days. They will evolve, things like the butterfly save came along to cover more of the net and increase the chances of stopping the shot. The onus is on the players to get hard to the net, and beat defenders. Defensemen are faster, bigger and stronger than they used to be. While the smaller, puck movers are becoming more and more useful and more of a necessity, it’s hard to barrel to the net when you have a Shea Weber or a Drew Doughty bearing down on you. The game is exciting, the saves are great, and nothing gives you butterflies like the big windmill glove saves that make the world stop. This writer says leave it and let the goalies battle. Let the war rage on.
Bass: The game is a constant evolution which means things constantly need to adjust to keep it exciting. Bosman mentions how exciting the butterfly style has become and it wouldn't have come if it weren't for the constant evolution and changes that have occurred to hockey. More changes should happen to continue the evolution of the sport and maybe create the next big thing, like the butterfly save/style. Last year the league’s best goalie by save percentage was Carey Price with a .933 save percentage. Back in 2001, Mike Dunham was the league leader with a .923 save percentage. This writer thinks that is would be best to have the save percentage go back to being around that spectrum. Currently, Henrik Lundqvist has a .946 save percentage and is leading this season. That's just too high of a percentage for being a quarter the way through a season.
What do you think? Should scoring be the same or increase a little?