Exploring what might happen if shorthanded goals negated power plays in the NHL

The NHL offseason can be a long and uneventful wait for fans, especially after the draft and free agency. That being said, we’re going to take a look at how to bolster more interest in the game with rule changes.

Minor rule changes have occurred over the last few years, most notably with coaches challenges and more focus on video review. For example, an unsuccessful coach’s challenge comes with a penalty. If challenging a goal call, it often means the scoring team can immediately go on the power play.

What are other rules that could be implemented by the NHL? One to look at is whether shorthanded goals should negate power plays. What impact might this have on the game? Let’s take a look.

The differential effect

If we look at the 2022–23 season stats across the league, 1,716 power play goals were scored while 250 shorthanded goals were scored. Taking a theoretical maximum of 250 power play goals off the board is a significant impact on league scoring. Of course, not all shorthanded goals were followed by power play goals on the same power play, so the difference wouldn’t be as drastic.

Power play efficiency would go down across the board, as abbreviated power plays would simply mean more unsuccessful power plays.

Who’s impacted the most?

Teams with good shorthanded defence could see huge swings in momentum when they score. Teams with high offence power plays may suffer a bit more, especially those that have four forwards and one defenceman. Would the NHL see a shift back to the three-forward, two-defenceman power play unit? Would penalty kill units see a shift to possibly more forwards? At the very least having speedier penalty killers available could be worth it over stay-at-home defencemen.

In reality

This rule change is very unlikely to happen. But hey, we like to have fun. It is a very intriguing rule change to consider. The NHL doesn’t like to make changes that are too drastic, and a rule like this one would happen rarely throughout a season. It could be experimental during preseason games to assess the real impacts on the game.

It would definitely lead to more scoring across the board as teams began to take more risks on the penalty kill and frankly, make special teams play in hockey more interesting. It can be incredibly frustrating as a fan watching the puck get cycled around the zone for almost two minutes with no real chances or action. While it’s a testament to the opposition’s penalty kill, it is still is one of the slowest parts of the game.

However, be reducing overall power play time, it may limit power play goals, a much more likely event compared to shorthanded goals. So would in less power play offence be worth it?

It all depends on how teams shift their strategies. Shorthanded goals negating power plays would be a experiment and fun change to today’s game. With a faster paced game played off the rush, the rule would be great to add even more excitement to today’s NHL.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

Back to top button