Friday, November 04, 2005

Where Scoring Is Down This Year

Yesterday, I wrote about the Ottawa Senator offence, which I believe is the best offence in the NHL. As I was writing the post, The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Washington Capitals 8-1. With that victory, Philadelphia now has the best offence so far thiws season (measured in terms of goals per game). Nevertheless, I predict that when the season is over Ottawa will have the best offence this year. They have more talented offensive players then any other team in the NHL.

As scoring is up in the NHL by a little over a goal a game, there are three teams that so far have not been able to score as many goals per game as they did in 2003/04. These teams that are scoring at a slower rate, despite the rule changes, are the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames.

Columbus has the worst offence in the NHL this year. They have only scored 1.71 goals per game so far this year (which is less than any team did in 2003-04). They scored 2.16 goals per game in 2003-04. Columbus has very few offensively talented players. Their leading goal scorers have only three goals so far this year. Their top scorer from 2003-04 Rick Nash has been hurt. He has only played three games so far this year and hasn't scored in any of them. His current knee injury should keep him out four to six weeks. Things are not looking up in Columbus.

Washington has 2.08 goals per game this year, which is down from 2.27 in 2003-04. They have only one offensively talented player in rookie Alexander Ovechkin. For the first two thirds (or so) of 2003-04, they had Robert Lang, Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Gonchar and Peter Bondra. All are gone and none are properly replaced. Washington will have a poor year as well.

Calgary was a favorite with many pundits this season after their trip to the finals in 2003-04. So far it hasn't worked out. They have scored 2.27 goals per game so far this year, down from 2.44. So far this year, they have not had much offensive depth beyond Jarome Iginla (who has not had the fastest start). Gone are Craig Conroy, Martin Gelinas and Dean McAmmond who were some of the Flames better scorers in 2003-04. Currently, Chuck Kobasew is their second highest goal scorer with four goals. I think that Calgary has enough offensive talent that things will turn around. People like Daymond Langkow, Tony Amonte, Stephane Yelle and Matthew Lombardi will start scoring. Mostly, I think their defense is full of very good puck moving defenders such as Roman Hamrlik and Robyn Regehr who will create more offensive opportunities for their forwards.

It is interesting that even when scoring has increased significantly league wide, some teams have shown declines. These teams are off to slow starts and unless things turn around, they will have poor seasons.

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