Goal scoring is up in the playoffs for the first time since 1996 and it has been fun to watch.
Some common themes are consistent in this years NHL playoffs, like power play chances have risen. Teams like Detroit, Boston, Philly and Vancouver are averaging over 15 minutes of penalties per game. Discipline or there lack of has been an issue, especially with the Western Conference foes. Coaches are the first to admit their respective teams must do a better job of staying on the ice and out of the box.
Face-offs in the offensive end have become a standard of excellence. How many games this spring have teams been able to use strategic plays to dissect the opposition? It is a simple plan to have two players capable of winning draws on the ice and sometimes the match up is not a fair set up. With the face-offs in the offensive zone after a minor penalty, teams are taking advantage of this skill and capitalizing.
Traffic has risen in the high rent district of the ice, that being the front of the net. It is an easy way to score goals in the NHL today if you are big and willing to take a little abuse. And I mean a "little" abuse as compared to the pre-lockout era. The cross-check and the interference on the big body has begun to sneak back into the game as of late. Why? It is an effective way to score, the big body players like Byfuglien, Holmstrom, Franzen and Toews have garnered some obvious success, and the frustrations are ever more apparent by the opposition and thus more penalties arise.
It is ever apparent that back to the basics have added to scoring as well. Shoot the puck from everywhere and anywhere. It adds to the fact that change of direction shots are the flavor of the month. This is prevalent from not just in front of the net, but also the re-directs from the point or wing shot. These are available from shots off the end boards (due to all the shooting lanes taken from the shot blockers) and the simple tip-in goals off the back door.
It has been fun to watch. Players are no longer allowed to clutch and grab, but free wheeling through the neutral zone. Scoring has been at a premium along with the board battles and the continuous net presence of the opposition.
Stay tuned, it has only just begun!
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.