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Slashing crackdown, infusion of youth boost NHL scoring

Goals are up 12 percent in the NHL through 400-plus games thanks to a crackdown on slashing and an infusion of young skill players

Published on December 7, 2017 1:20PM

Last changed on December 7, 2017 6:19PM

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo ,Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Washington. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed.  (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo ,Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Washington. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, New York Islanders' John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in New York. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, New York Islanders' John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in New York. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, file photo, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, center, of Russia, celebrates his goal with center Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, and defenseman Matt Niskanen, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Washington. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, file photo, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, center, of Russia, celebrates his goal with center Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, and defenseman Matt Niskanen, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Washington. Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike short-handed. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)


The nets aren't bigger, the goaltenders aren't smaller and yet scoring is up significantly around the National Hockey League.

Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a whopping 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike in short-handed goals.

The uptick can be credited to a concerted crackdown on slashing by issuing more penalties and a league-wide move toward younger and more skilled players. The current pace of 6.01 goals per game would be the highest since 2005-06, when a series of rule changes were put in to open up the game and get more scoring to attract new fans.

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