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03-07-2013, 11:10 PM
Morgoth Bauglir
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Originally Posted by eva unit zero View Post
Without commenting on defensemen, the goalies (in general) are better. Significantly. You don't see a guy come down the wing on a breakaway and take an unscreened slapshot and just plain beat the goalie. It doesn't happen. It used to happen ALL THE TIME. As someone who started watching hockey in the 80s, I can't say I watched 70s goalies and can't tell you how they compare as far as the eye test. But 80s goalies were crap compared to goalies of nowadays. One way to tell? Compare Roy's save percentage in the late 80s to other goalies. The gap is ridiculous. Nowadays, the leaders are all close together. Hasek was way in front in his prime. Roy was way in front in his prime. But I would probably take a guy like Joey MacDonald over most 80s goalies. Why? He may not be as good as a lot of his peers, but he's better than the guys who played in the 80s. Mainly because goaltending technique was so far behind... those guys either made amazing saves or looked like idiots out there. There was no in between.

But your comparison is flawed. Depth forwards in the 80s were the primary driver for the increased scoring of the era; elite scorers did not actually score significantly more (aside from Gretzky and Lemieux) so the "era" argument is flawed when used against top 80s players like Yzerman and Messier. Unless you're looking at a season like 92-93, where there were tons of top scorers scoring unusually high amounts. Even in 88-89, there were only nine 100-point scorers. It's why adjusted stats must always be used in context (if you adjust from the 7.5GPG from 88-89 to the 5.5GPG during the DPE, and use that as a coefficient for player point adjustment, then 2000-01 had 50 players with a 100-point pace had they played in 88-89. Including reigning Selke winner Steve Yzerman. Mario Lemieux would adjust to pace for 193 points over 80 games (104 in the 40 he played). So either player quality simply increased that much (but defense and goaltending had improved enough that scoring was far more limited) or the argument that player quality has not increased is correct and if so, that's probably why scoring dropped and has stayed low. After all, Teemu Selanne was a top scorer in 1993 and was a top scorer in 2011. Defensemen score far fewer points now than we used to see (Orr, Potvin, Bourque, MacInnis, etc.), so they must be less skilled right?

Which seems more reasonable? A feeder system that has developed over the years becomes more refined, a 21-team league with 17 teams' worth of Canadian players gains access to Europe's pool of skilled players, which is regularly enough to fill another 6-7 teams. The US improves its hockey program dramatically. The minor leagues (AHL, IHL, etc.) become far more aligned with the league and teams develop much more focused prospect development systems, often with full control of the minor league teams. Players now have nutritionists, trainers, and full-year training regimens when they used to see the league as a "season only" job and training camp was literally for getting in shape, rather than a warmup for the season and a tryout for rookies.

And we'll also ignore the increase in population and youth hockey in general.

But yes, it's probable that talent level has remained stagnant, despite all of that. That second-line and even some third-line depth players nowadays wouldn't be stars if they were suddenly transported to the 70s or 80s.
Roy's sv% of .875, .892, and .900 weren't out of line for elite level goaltenders in the '80s. Andy Moog had a number seasons with sv% in the .890s for example.

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