Conditions are right for five 50-goal scorers this NHL season –

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Scoring has increased considerably in the National Hockey League over the last five regular seasons. Last season saw another sharp move to the upside, with teams scoring an average of 3.14 goals per game, the highest number since 1993-94.

For a few years, much of the hockey public was reluctant to acknowledge the reality that the scoring environment had changed in the league. We’ve seen scoring surges in recent years, sometimes a fleeting burst of offensive performance in the first few months of the regular season that fades late, other times fueled by an increase in penalty rates and corresponding shooting opportunities. can. In most cases, we were deceived. Games turned defensive in a hurry, with grueling hockey and dominant goalkeepers defining the outcome.

But this race has been different. Critically important, the scoring burst has been sustained, unlike in times past. To what do we attribute it? Probably several factors. The reductions in goalkeeping team size, the influx of top-tier skills into lineups, the deepening of rosters and the near elimination of grinder- and executor-type skaters further down the lineup, and the strategic and tactical changes that coaches have done in a data-rich environment have it all. probably contributed.

Consider the trend in scoring behavior over the last 15 years:

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We can reasonably assume that scoring rates heading into this season will remain sustainably higher. That raises an interesting question: how many players will cross the coveted 50-goal mark? It is an achievement four players (Toronto’s auston matthewsEdmonton’s Leon DraisaitlNew York chris kreiderand Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin) figured it out a season ago.

Crossing the 50-goal threshold is an achievement in any scoring environment, but the reality is that today’s game has given the best attackers in the league an outside chance, provided they play in a capable team and can hold up reasonably well. healthy.

If we look at the last 15 seasons, we can see how rare it is to score 50 goals in a single season:

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Over a 15-year period (although a couple of these seasons were cut short due to lockouts and the COVID-19 pandemic), the NHL has seen about 1.2 50-goal scorers per season. If nothing else, it underscores how remarkable last season’s achievement was, with four guys crossing the barrier.

Little has changed since last season, so expect a similar offensive wave again in 2022-23. How many 50-goal scorers could the NHL see this season? Is it possible that we could see five (or even more?) in a single season?

The short answer to this question is that it all comes down to health: the most dangerous shooters in the league are very reliable scorers, and over many months and many shots, they rarely stay on a losing streak. To that end, the only real way to suppress the scoring of this very small group of players is if they’re injured.

Let’s look back at the 2021-22 season, but take availability out of the equation. If we apply a pace of play times 82, we see five players, the four mentioned plus those from Nashville. Philip Forsberg – at the pace of a 50-goal season. In particular, we see eight additional attackers on the sidelines:

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From Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor through boston David Pastrnack, we have another eight attackers who could have crossed the 50-goal threshold with a little more push. Maybe that’s a little more usage, playing with a better power play unit or just not missing as many games in the heart of the season (Colorado’s gabriel landeskog could be the best example of this).

What’s doubly remarkable is that this list also includes Edmonton’s Connor McDavidwho may be the best bet of any player in the league to score 50 this season.

To answer my own question: we could see five 50-goal scorers in the 2022-23 season. Imagine telling yourself that after the 2016-18 stretch, where zero players were able to realize that achievement.

Change takes time. In the case of the NHL, the offense they’ve been searching for to increase entertainment value and highlight the beauty and skill of the game has finally arrived. If all goes according to plan, this season could be the most explosive yet.

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