The NHL is approaching the half way point of the season and though stars such as Jakub Voracek and Tyler Seguin are having career seasons, there is no player on pace for 100 points this season.
For a long time the milestone that has put players into the category of greats has been cracking the century mark in points. Though players such as the aforementioned Voracek and Seguin lead the way and have the greatest chance of eclipsing the mark the season, the fact is at the pace they are on so far, they are both projected to come up just short.
History Shows 100 Points is Harder to Hit
Seguin and Vorack are both on pace to finish the year with 98 points, but to their credit no other player this year is on pace to hit the mark either. If these paces keep up, or even drop off the 2014-15 season would mark the first time since the lockout season of 2012-13 that the 100-point plateau was not hit.
However, the lockout season had teams play just 48 regular season game and with 60 points in 48 games, Martin St. Louis was on pace to hit 100, so we will put that one to the side. The season prior to that where no player was able to reach the milestone was in 2003-04, the season prior to the NHL’s yearlong lockout of 2004-05. St. Louis hit 94 points that season, but that was the closest any player got to 100.
Between that lockout season and last season, the 100-point mark had been hit 26 different times. More than half of those times coming the two years after the ’05 lockout with seven players hitting over 100 points between 2005 and 2007. Dating back to 2010-11 in each season only one player has been able to crack the century-point plateau, so the feat is obviously becoming harder and harder to do.
Goalies Are To Blame
Part of the reason for the drop in players hitting the century mark has been the improved play of goaltenders. This season the league-wide goals against average is 2.55 while the average save percentage in the league is .913%, just short for the best average in NHL history. So, obviously goalies are playing better than ever.
Dating back to the 2008-09 season the top 15 goalies in each season have all had save percentages over 0.915%. While between 2005-06 and 2011-12 season only twice had any goalie finished the season with a goals against average below 2.00.
Over the past three seasons the average goals per game average has stayed steady at roughly 2.73. While the following six seasons the average was 2.89, with the highest being 3.08 in 2005-06, the second highest since total since 1993-94. And though that 0.16 change may seem very small, it translates to a difference of nearly 200 goals. Early on this season the goals per game, shots per game, saves per game, goalie save percentage, and goals against average are almost exactly the same as they were a year ago.
Is Crosby Our Last Hope?
Sidney Crosby has hit the 100 point mark five times during his career, but in every season he has played he has put up a point per game average that would have resulted in 100 points in a full 82 game campaign, not too shabby. Ultimately freak injuries and the ’13 lockout put wrenches into those milestones. This season his brief mumps outbreak kept him out of the lineup for three games and with him being on pace for 94 points and the way he puts up points, those three games could have possibly had him back on that pace.
Of course that goes with saying to every player in the league, there is still more than half the season to play and no reason why players can’t get hot and get themselves back into contention for 100 points. But they will need to pick up the pace to do so because as it looks now, no one will crack triple digits this year.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.