- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
This new, high-scoring NHL is apparently here to stay. Checking in on leaguewide stats with one month now in the books, penalty minutes are up -- an average of 35.1 per game compared to 29.8 the year before the lockout -- and scoring remains up -- 6.3 per game, up from 5.1 in 2003-04. That's right in line with the numbers noted here after one week of the season, so it's not like referees are letting up on the new rules hindering clutching and grabbing like they might have in the past. Kudos, guys, because the game is better for it.
In case you're a more recent member of the fantasy hockey community, what we're seeing so far this season is almost a throwback to the game of 10 years ago. In other words, we're not quite talking about the fast-paced, high-scoring shootouts of the 1980s, but we're not talking about the defensive battles of the past several years, either. This game is more like that of the early 1990s, when guys like Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr would regularly top both the 50-goal and 100-point plateaus. If you came into the season expecting you could get by with a strategy built around plus-minus, goalies and defensive skill, you're going find yourself far behind in the standings very soon. You need scorers, and more of them than you might have gotten away with in the past.
Tristan Cockcroft examines the power-play units of some NHL teams.