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NHL goals per game, every season since the early '40s...

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08-14-2004, 06:17 PM
  #1
revolverjgw
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NHL goals per game, every season since the early '40s...

I was looking on the net for a list of goals-per-game over the years, couldn't find one, so I spent an hour or two this morning figuring it out for myself. Yeah, I guess it was pretty tedious, and with my luck, I probably overlooked a perfectly good GPG list somewhere! But it was worth the effort to actually do myself, nice to sort of see the great seasons of the legends go with the flow as I marched through 60 years of scoring via hockeydb. Hopefully somebody will find this interesting.

There are most likely little math errors here and there, my fingers occasionally slide off calculator buttons when I'm in a hurry, I lose my train of thought, I get bored, I get distracted, chaos ensues, numbers get messed up, yaddayaddayadda... I managed to totally screw up the entire 1950s at one point, but I won't get into that. But it's OK.

42-43 7.22
43-44 8.17- wow, that's some firewagon hockey in the early 40's! You got Bill Cowley nipping at TWO, count' em, TWO points per game, Maurice Richard firing 50 in 50, Elmer Lach putting up some gaudy numbers...
44-45 7.35
45-46 6.68
46-47 6.32
47-48 5.85
48-49 5.43
49-50 5.47
50-51 5.42
51-52 5.19
52-53 4.79- I wonder what the fans during this defensive period thought of the constant 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 scores... I wonder if they pined for the early '40s like some of us do for the '80s! In just a few years, they went from 8 goals a game, to 6, to 5, and beneath. What to do? Decrease the size of the goalies' pads from puny to even punier?
53-54 4.80
54-55 5.04
55-56 5.07
56-57 5.38- and the beat goes on... maybe we should get used to the current state of the NHL... God knows, they did back then... the defensive era of the post-World War II years was long and... defensive.
57-58 5.59
58-59 5.79
59-60 5.89
60-61 6.00
61-62 6.02
62-63 5.94- fluctuating... hardly at all. I guess the Original Six were comfortable with each other. Familiarity breeds comtempt, let's shake this up soon...
63-64 5.55
64-65 5.75
65-66 6.08
66-67 5.96
67-68 5.57
68-69 5.96
69-70 5.80- low scoring. And yet, some guy, some defenceman, put up 120 points that year... wow. Weak expansion teams, but still.
70-71 6.24- and 140ish here. He was pretty good, wasn't he? Even 95-96 was higher scoring than 70-71...
71-72 6.13
72-73 6.55
73-74 6.39
74-75 6.85
75-76 6.82
76-77 6.64
77-78 6.59
78-79 6.99
79-80 7.02- expansion, and the highest scoring season since the '40s, but I thought this would be higher... a scrawny 18 year old stepping into the NHL and putting up about 140 points playing with Blair McDonald, when scoring was a relatively modest 7 a game (not even '93 level?). Hey, maybe that guy WAS pretty good, and his numbers weren't mostly a product of their era and hall of fame teammates...
80-81 7.68
81-82 8.02- the Wayne Effect is in...well, full effect. Not everyone thinks the firewagon '80s was a result of Gretzky, but it's gotta be more than a coincidence that scoring got a jolt right about now...
82-83 7.72
83-84 7.88
84-85 7.77
85-86 7.93- Weird Stat of the Second- Wayne was in on over 3.2% of the goals scored that year, which is pretty good considering the size of the league at that point. What a weird thing for me to calculate, or even think of.
86-87 7.33
87-88 7.43
88-89 7.48
89-90 7.36
90-91 6.91- my favorite NHL era begins here and continues until 93-94.
91-92 6.96
92-93 7.25- everybody and their dog had 100 points that year... 7.25 seems pretty modest. I guess the planets were aligned for the league's superstars that year.
93-94 6.48
94-95 5.97- a bad omen, this sub-6 number...
95-96 6.29- or maybe it was just an abherration...?
96-97 5.83- nope, it's trap/Michelin Man time for the next, say, 15-20 years.
97-98 5.27
98-99 5.26
99-00 5.49
00-01 5.51- wow... guys, stop scoring so much.
01-02 5.23- that's better.
02-03 5.31
03-04 5.14- ouch. Maybe next year we'll be lucky enough to get back to 52-53's level.

Anyway, where do you see the NHL going in the future, and why (scoring-wise)? Where do you hope it's headed?

I love today's hockey... I don't think it's any better, or worse, than the '80s... both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some entertaining aspects, some frustrating aspects. But me personally... I want high scoring games. Not because I think today's NHL is broken, but because that's just the kind of hockey I personally like... shooting out the lights, wide open. Give the stars room. Stop drafting guys that are 6-5 just because they're 6-5 and have the necessary reach to grab and obstruct you from 6 feet away.

I prefer 6-5 games to 1-0... but both are exciting. Different strokes for different folks. 92-93 was my favorite season of all time... at least among the ones I can remember. If I wasn't... unborn back when Gretzky scored 92, that probably would have been it. I love watching tapes and highlights of early '80s hockey, without the tacky board advertisements, gargantuan goalie pads... and solid defensive play. ;-) I want to find a way to open this game up without drastically altering it. Maybe the refs would like to chip in someday.

In '93, Lemieux was cutting through defenses like a knife through butter, Gretzky rebounded from a painful regular season to do the same in the playoffs, lots of guys had career years offensively, Selanne was creeping up on 80 goals... and my Habs won the Cup. The games just seemed to be a lot more fun to watch.


Last edited by revolverjgw: 08-14-2004 at 09:09 PM.
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Old
08-14-2004, 08:03 PM
  #2
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Nice research. I made a chart of it and attached it.

Interesting that the falloff in the mid-forties/early fifties was much more rapid than the current one. I wonder if there was the same call for drastic rule changes that we're seeing today?


Last edited by colonel_korn: 04-27-2009 at 12:19 AM.
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Old
08-14-2004, 08:05 PM
  #3
kmad
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I think the scoring increase in 80/81 might have been a result of a wider concentration of talent due to the WHA-NHL merger..

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08-14-2004, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmad
I think the scoring increase in 80/81 might have been a result of a wider concentration of talent due to the WHA-NHL merger..
Actually the opposite is true. All those players in the WHA who didn't have the skill and talent to crack the NHL were suddenly thrust into the most talented league. The league got a bunch of defencemen who couldn't keep up, goalies who couldn't stop pucks as well and forwards who couldn't check as well. The result? More scoring.

The same pattern was started in the early 40's when most of the players were off fighting WWII. It left the league with inexperienced and less skilled players. The result..once again, more scoring.

As soon as the war was over and the players came back, scoring went down. Fast forward to the 90's and we saw a heavy influx of talented European players come into the league. Scoring went down.

In every instance, the more talent the league has the harder it is to score. You get high scoring games when you have a bunch of scrubs standing around watching as the talent blows by them.

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08-14-2004, 08:50 PM
  #5
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I wonder if this means that a salary cap would bring such talent equality that we might be able to crack the 4.79 goals per game record....let's do this, guys!

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Old
08-14-2004, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Actually the opposite is true
Yeah, I think that's what he meant... more teams, so the talent was more spread out amongst them (or in some teams' cases, barely there at all)... and that leaves holes, lesser players. Holes for Gretzky, Stastny et al to take advantage of.

And it's definitely true that the more talent you have, the harder you have to work to score... even though the guy you're passing to will most likely have better hands, the 2-4 guys back there trying to stop you will have more poise... advantage, defense. Though I still think it's possible to bring up scoring through a little tweaking of the game and the rules.

LITTLE tweaking... as much as I like to see run 'n gun hockey, I'm NOT in that small camp that wants 4 on 4, and I'm anti-shootout.

Korn- thanks for making that chart! Yikes, did scoring ever plummet when the boys came home from the war. And personally, I hope to see a spike there in the near future...


Last edited by revolverjgw: 08-14-2004 at 09:07 PM.
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Old
08-14-2004, 09:02 PM
  #7
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Yeah, I think that's what he meant... more teams, so the talent was more spread out amongst them (or in some teams' cases, barely there at all)... and that leaves holes, lesser players. Holes for Gretzky, Statsny et al to take advantage of.

Ahh..read it wrong.

Nevermind.

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Old
08-14-2004, 09:16 PM
  #8
David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revolverjgw
I was looking on the net for a list of goals-per-game over the years, couldn't find one, so I spent an hour or two this morning figuring it out for myself. Yeah, I guess it was pretty tedious, and with my luck, I probably overlooked a perfectly good GPG list somewhere! But it was worth the effort to actually do myself, nice to sort of see the great seasons of the legends go with the flow as I marched through 60 years of scoring via hockeydb. Hopefully somebody will find this interesting.

There are most likely little math errors here and there, my fingers occasionally slide off calculator buttons when I'm in a hurry, I lose my train of thought, I get bored, I get distracted, chaos ensues, numbers get messed up, yaddayaddayadda... I managed to totally screw up the entire 1950s at one point, but I won't get into that. But it's OK.

42-43 7.22
43-44 8.17- wow, that's some firewagon hockey in the early 40's! You got Bill Cowley nipping at TWO, count' em, TWO points per game, Maurice Richard firing 50 in 50, Elmer Lach putting up some gaudy numbers...
44-45 7.35
45-46 6.68
46-47 6.32
47-48 5.85
48-49 5.43
49-50 5.47
50-51 5.42
51-52 5.19
52-53 4.79- I wonder what the fans during this defensive period thought of the constant 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 scores... I wonder if they pined for the early '40s like some of us do for the '80s! In just a few years, they went from 8 goals a game, to 6, to 5, and beneath. What to do? Decrease the size of the goalies' pads from puny to even punier?
53-54 4.80
54-55 5.04
55-56 5.07
56-57 5.38- and the beat goes on... maybe we should get used to the current state of the NHL... God knows, they did back then... the defensive era of the post-World War II years was long and... defensive.
57-58 5.59
58-59 5.79
59-60 5.89
60-61 6.00
61-62 6.02
62-63 5.94- fluctuating... hardly at all. I guess the Original Six were comfortable with each other. Familiarity breeds comtempt, let's shake this up soon...
63-64 5.55
64-65 5.75
65-66 6.08
66-67 5.96
67-68 5.57
68-69 5.96
69-70 5.80- low scoring. And yet, some guy, some defenceman, put up 120 points that year... wow. Weak expansion teams, but still.
70-71 6.24- and 140ish here. He was pretty good, wasn't he? Even 95-96 was higher scoring than 70-71...
71-72 6.13
72-73 6.55
73-74 6.39
74-75 6.85
75-76 6.82
76-77 6.64
77-78 6.59
78-79 6.99
79-80 7.02- expansion, and the highest scoring season since the '40s, but I thought this would be higher... a scrawny 18 year old stepping into the NHL and putting up about 140 points playing with Blair McDonald, when scoring was a relatively modest 7 a game (not even '93 level?). Hey, maybe that guy WAS pretty good, and his numbers weren't mostly a product of their era and hall of fame teammates...
80-81 7.68
81-82 8.02- the Wayne Effect is in...well, full effect. Not everyone thinks the firewagon '80s was a result of Gretzky, but it's gotta be more than a coincidence that scoring got a jolt right about now...
82-83 7.72
83-84 7.88
84-85 7.77
85-86 7.93- Weird Stat of the Second- Wayne was in on over 3.2% of the goals scored that year, which is pretty good considering the size of the league at that point. What a weird thing for me to calculate, or even think of.
86-87 7.33
87-88 7.43
88-89 7.48
89-90 7.36
90-91 6.91- my favorite NHL era begins here and continues until 93-94.
91-92 6.96
92-93 7.25- everybody and their dog had 100 points that year... 7.25 seems pretty modest. I guess the planets were aligned for the league's superstars that year.
93-94 6.48
94-95 5.97- a bad omen, this sub-6 number...
95-96 6.29- or maybe it was just an abherration...?
96-97 5.83- nope, it's trap/Michelin Man time for the next, say, 15-20 years.
97-98 5.27
98-99 5.26
99-00 5.49
00-01 5.51- wow... guys, stop scoring so much.
01-02 5.23- that's better.
02-03 5.31
03-04 5.14- ouch. Maybe next year we'll be lucky enough to get back to 52-53's level.
.
Nice job!

Pretty evident that there is a direct correlation between Gretzky's scoring and the leagues scoring...ie as soon as Gretz enters the league the scoring goes up and as his scoring slows down, so does the leagues.

Yes, once again, Wayne Gretzky (and the response to him) WAS the direct reason for the high scoring '80's.

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Old
08-14-2004, 09:27 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Nice job!

Pretty evident that there is a direct correlation between Gretzky's scoring and the leagues scoring...ie as soon as Gretz enters the league the scoring goes up and as his scoring slows down, so does the leagues.

Yes, once again, Wayne Gretzky (and the response to him) WAS the direct reason for the high scoring '80's.
I don't think Gretzky was the cause for high scoring, I think this post explained it well:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coelah
Actually the opposite is true. All those players in the WHA who didn't have the skill and talent to crack the NHL were suddenly thrust into the most talented league. The league got a bunch of defencemen who couldn't keep up, goalies who couldn't stop pucks as well and forwards who couldn't check as well. The result? More scoring.

The same pattern was started in the early 40's when most of the players were off fighting WWII. It left the league with inexperienced and less skilled players. The result..once again, more scoring.

As soon as the war was over and the players came back, scoring went down. Fast forward to the 90's and we saw a heavy influx of talented European players come into the league. Scoring went down.

In every instance, the more talent the league has the harder it is to score. You get high scoring games when you have a bunch of scrubs standing around watching as the talent blows by them.

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08-14-2004, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
I don't think Gretzky was the cause for high scoring, I think this post explained it well:
I don't believe Gretzky was the cause either, but I think his total dominance DID have a bit of an effect on the mentality at the time... when the league initially expanded that first year, scoring only went up a fraction of a percent. Of course there were a lot of factors at play, the dust hadn't yet settled.

It wasn't really until his numbers went into the stratosphere (which only took a year, granted!) that the leaguewide numbers did as well. And I doubt the whole league suddenly lost that large amount of defensive strength after just the first year of expansion.

I do agree scoring was due to rise a bit anyway, but it didn't just rise... it SHOT UP over a goal a game while Gretzky was in the process of rewriting the record book during his second and third year. There had been expansion before, which resulted in scoring increases, but it wasn't as sharp as this one.

I don't think Gretzky was THE reason, or the biggest reason, but I believe he did have a bit of influence there.


Last edited by revolverjgw: 08-14-2004 at 09:48 PM.
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08-15-2004, 11:05 AM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revolverjgw
I don't think Gretzky was THE reason, or the biggest reason, but I believe he did have a bit of influence there.
Have to disagree.

Because of Gretzky, Glen Sather was able to introduce the fire wagon hockey at the time.

Because of Gretzky and in order to catch him, and his teammates who were benefitting from his passes, other teams had to get rid of slow, no talent thugs that were running around terrorizing everyone at the time.

Because of Gretzky, NHL had to change the rules over and over again.

Because of Gretzky, players with half decent talent started scoring 150pt a season...just ask guys like Broadway Bernie...but don't forget others who benefitted from Gretz...even guys like Glenny Anderson.

Because of Gretzky, the thuggery and goonism started to dissipate which allowed skilled guys to go out and do their stuff.

Because of Gretzky and without the no talent thugs patrolling the ice, teams were more focused on the run and gun style of game and drafted for players that suited this purpose.

And as Gretzky's skills and output declined soon after the '91 hit from behind on him from Gary Suter and the subsequent arthritis, so did the rest of the league's scoring. It's all very clear...even the numbers here back that up.


Last edited by David: 08-15-2004 at 11:10 AM.
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08-15-2004, 11:13 AM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Have to disagree.

Because of Gretzky, Glen Sather was able to introduce the fire wagon hockey at the time.

Because of Gretzky and in order to catch him, other teams had to get rid of slow, no talent thugs that were running around terrorizing everyone at the time.

Because of Gretzky, NHL had to change the rules over and over again.

Because of Gretzky, players with half decent talent started scoring 150pt a season...just ask guys like Broadway Bernie.

Because of Gretzky, the thuggery and goonism started to dissipate which allowed skilled guys to go out and do their stuff.

Because of Gretzky and without the no talent thugs patrolling the ice, teams were more focused on the run and gun style of game and drafted for players that suited this purpose.

And as Gretzky's skills and output declined after the '91 hit from behind on him from Gary Suter, so did the rest of the league's scoring. It's all very clear...even the numbers here back that up.
I think the numbers better support what Coleah and revolverjgw have said. Gretzky was clearly responsible for an increase in scoring but he wasn't the main reason.

There were PLENTY of no-talent thugs patrolling throughout the 80's. One of them was patrolling alongside Gretzky.

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08-16-2004, 02:30 PM
  #13
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What about the goalaverage for the playoffs. It should be like 2.5 for the last few seasons

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08-17-2004, 05:00 PM
  #14
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I'd figure that out too, if I could find some good stats to work with. If anybody knows where I could get some, let me know. Funny how the playoffs are the most important part of the season, but it's hard to get a hold of the numbers... hockey cards don't bother, it's an afterthought on hockeydb, etc.

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08-17-2004, 06:18 PM
  #15
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43-44 was also the advent of the red line and forward passing in the neutral zone as well. The change was significant enough that it's dubbed the beginning of the "modern era" in hockey.

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08-17-2004, 07:04 PM
  #16
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Nice post. I like it. I too long for the days of the ealr to mid 90's. If only the Flyers had beaten the Devils in the Stanly Cup semis that year and not had the Devils win the Cup then maybe we'd have a 100 point man again in the NHL. I think the Devils winning the Cup and then the next year Florida making the CUp finals is arguably the worst things that have happened to Hockey in recent memory.

Not just my opinion it hurt the game. Can you imagine if Pittsburgh had played the Colorado Avalanche in the 1996 Cup final? Wow. Lemiuex had 161 points that year. Jagr 149. Sakic 120, Forsberg 116 and Francis 119. That would have been your Cup final. But instead another trapping team had to ruin it and others followed and the product has dwindled since. Ever since then either New Jersey or some other trap-happy team has been in the Cup finals. It took 8 years after '96 to finally have another entertaining finals.

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