Category: NHL History

Age Distribution in the NHL, 1960s to Present, and What it Could Tell Us

Image of the stage at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
via Wikimedia Commons

One of the relatively well-known elements of NHL history is that the 1980s were a decade of incredibly high scoring. While over the last 20 seasons the NHL has held pretty steady around five to five-and-a-half goals scored per game, in the 1980s games were averaging nearly two more goals per game. That’s not an insignificant difference, considering that games in a low-scoring league like the NHL are often decided by two goals or less. This has led to a lot of speculation, as people have both wondered at the reasons for those high scoring levels, as well as pondered how to increase scoring in today’s league. The most-accepted reasons are, for the most part, disappointingly unique for people looking to improve today’s offense: league expansion brought an influx of offensive talent (with the 1979 World Hockey Association-NHL merger, four teams were suddenly added to the 17-team league), goaltending equipment and techniques were sparse and out-of-date, and late 1960s/70s innovations (curved stick blades and offensive-focused defensemen) were elevating offensive production. While looking at the age distribution of NHLers, I found something that also could be included as an explanation.

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NHL Playoff Performers: Who is Really Showing Up “When it Counts”?

It’s a common refrain among color commentators and hockey fans alike, noting when a player is or is not “showing up” for the playoffs. Numerous otherwise-HOF players have received the “playoff bust” label for simply not winning the Stanley Cup (despite the fact that a team’s path through the playoffs is fraught with randomness). Players like Alex Ovechkin and Joe Thornton have grappled with media narratives about their postseason futility for a long time, so I figured I would see if the data supports this argument, and what’s more if maybe there are some more-deserving players for these criticism — and what the heck, let’s find some true “playoff heroes” as well.

Continue reading “NHL Playoff Performers: Who is Really Showing Up “When it Counts”?”