Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scoring In The West

As a further look at yesterday's post where I criticized the theory that fans like higher scoring hockey, I maintain that well played hockey is usually lower scoring than more poorly played hockey. The AHL typically outscores the NHL every season. The ECHL typically outscored both the NHL and the AHL. The better league is usually the lower scoring league.

Last year, the West Conference had a better record in games versus the East Conference but was the lower scoring conference. This season, I think those trends will continue. It's still very early in the season; some teams have not played any inter-conference games. There is no clear leader in inter-conference play yet (in fact the east and west conference are 10-10 in inter-conference play), but it is clear looking at the NHL's top scorers that the East Conference is over represented (8 of the top 10 scorers play in the east). If the West Conference is as good as the east (or the better of the two conferences), then the top scorers in the west are having dominant years which are being lost because they are not scoring as often as their eastern counterparts. Here are the top ten scorers in the West Conference so far this season:

Top 10 Scorers In The West Conference (as of the conclusion of Nov 10th games)
Name Team Goals Assists Points Standing in League
Henrik ZetterbergDet1313261
Jarome IginlaCal1014243
Paul StastnyCol7121920
Patrick KaneChi6131921
Joe ThorntonSJ6131923
Alex TanguayCal5141924
Rick NashClb1161727
Daymond LangkowCal891729
Mike RibieroDal7101730
Joe SakicCol5121731

There are 21 east players with enough points that they would qualify for the top 10 in scoring in the west. The east is the higher scoring conference and thus has more players at the top of the scoring list, but that does not necessarily mean they have the best scorers. I think it means they play against weaker defences. This list shows just how well Henrik Zetterberg and Jarome Iginla are playing to be the first and third highest scorers in the NHL respectively despite playing in a lower scoring conference.

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