Tim Murray is Right, Hockey Journalists/Pundits Don’t Get It

Dear Hockey Journalists and Pundits,

Can we stop equating goal-scoring with good, exciting hockey?  I’m serious.  When I read a section of an article titled “Inside the Numbers” and it says this:

It’s been more than four years since an NHL team scored 10 or more goals in one game, according to STATS. St. Louis was the last to do it in a 10-3 win at Detroit on March 30, 2011.

As for the last time NHL teams combined for 14 or more goals in one game? That would be Winnipeg’s 9-8 win over Philadelphia on Oct. 27, 2011.

I just get mad.  I really don’t understand the obsession with goal-scoring from the hockey media.  Well I think I do, but when I think of the reasons they may be so obsessed it just makes me madder.

Look, I don’t care that St. Louis scored 10 goals against Detroit in some game in 2011 and the reason why is I’m not a Blues fan.  I find it hard to believe that game was exciting for anyone but a Blues fan.  You want to know why I think that?  Because given the score Detroit probably played pretty badly.  Unless I’m watching my team (the New Jersey Devils if anyone was interested), a blowout isn’t exciting, its actually quite boring.  To be fair I’ll say I imagine the 9-8 game between Winnipeg and Philadelphia was exciting but the main reason is because it was a close game!  I do however also think the goaltending was probably pretty mediocre so fans of the Jets or the Flyers may have also been kind of mad.  Yet, I think the best example of what I’m trying to capture  is the farce that the NHL All Star Game has become.  Since the lockout these are the final scores of the All Star Game:

  • 2007: West 12 – East 9
  • 2008: East 8 – West 7
  • 2009: East 12 – West 11 (SO)
  • 2011: Team Lidstrom 11 – Team Staal 10
  • 2012: Team Chara 12 – Team Alfredsson 9
  • 2015: Team Toews 17 – Team Foligno 12

Look at all those goals!  Those games must have been awesome!  Meanwhile back in reality, ALMOST NOBODY WATCHES THE ALL STAR GAME!  When I talk to other hockey players I know (and I know a lot of them) the top reason is that it’s a joke, there are too many goals scored, no defense played, and no hitting.  In other words, I don’t get the logic of more goals equating to more exciting hockey.

Maybe its because I play hockey 4 or 5 days a week, but I care far more about watching the process – if one or both teams are actually playing well, making good decisions with puck, etc. – than the number of goals scored.  For me trying to read the play and see where the puck is going next before its even passed is, in and of itself, exciting.  Granted I’m also a guy who gets annoyed when I’m in my seats at the Devils game and I hear people yelling “shoot!” when there’s no shooting lane or lamenting why the defensemen slow the game down at times with D to D passes (hint: they’re trying to open passing lanes up).  Scoring chances are what makes a game exciting.  Just like goals, great saves are exciting and gets the crowd up out of its seats.

Honestly, it just feels like a good number of the people who cover the game as sports journalists, actually just hate it because they constantly complain about it.  Get over it people.  The higher the skill level the fewer goals there are going to be.  Appreciate the game for what it is, not what you want it to be or what it was when the skill level was lower like the 1980s.  Tim Murray is right, the lament about the NHLs scoring woes is a largely a media creation.

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