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Friday Update: Penalties and scoring

With only 110 games played, the PPO opportunities have bottomed out — for now.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Today marks the third week of tracking power play opportunities in the league. The rate is flat for now at a level not seen since 2013, but will that last?

It likely won’t last. The very early season sharp increase in penalties called always gives way to a decline that has been charted several times in several ways. There was one in last week’s post:

And there’s another in the post linked below. But also in that post is the very interesting chart showing just cross-checking penalties called.

The crack down is real. But it certainly seems that, in order to get those extra cross-checking calls, the other sorts of minor penalties have been lower than normal. This has always been the fear of these kinds of initiatives, that the refs will reach an equilibrium very quickly by skipping over some other weak infractions to make weak cross-checking calls instead. Eventually, the total rate will decline even more as games seem more meaningful and the desire by referees to not be seen to be “deciding the outcome” will hold sway.

It’s possible this is both referee behaviour and player behaviour making the overall rate decline, but there is definitely a difference in how cross-checking is being called so far, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with changes in player actions.

Meanwhile scoring is also flat now at 2.98 goals per game for the season to date. Matching the rate since 2017. Save percentage is at .912, barely any change over last week. The overall PP and PK percentage success rates have also reached a steady number consistent with recent years of 20 and 80 respectively.

This season is shaping up to be just like last year in terms of scoring — maybe a little duller even.