In this edition of the bag of mail, we look at why the NHL is back to its wild days of scoring like the 1980s… well, the 1990s… or the 2000s perhaps… OK, fine — the previous decade, but it’s a lot of goals relatively speaking, but are they here to stay? What are the best trios involving jerseys numbers adding to 69? And, most importantly, would I have sex with a robot? The answers may surprise you. Mailbag!
@davelozo goals are up. Or sv % is down or whatever. Whats your prediction. Will that keep up
— Prance Rosner (@yomike_) October 24, 2016
It sort of all depends. The Bobfather tackled this topic Monday and here are some of the numbers he compiled, saving me the trouble of sifting through statistics and doing math (Thanks, Uncle Bob!):
“Comparing the first 80 games of this season to the first 80 of last season shows an increase of 66 goals, from 421 to 487. That’s an average of 5.3 per game to 6.1 — not an insignificant bump.
“Even-strength scoring is up a little more than 19 percent, from 307 goals last season to 366 this season.
“The short-term increase in scoring this season is not simply a function of a power-play goal bonanza. In fact, there’s only been one more power-play goal (16) scored in 80 games this year compared to the (15) first 80 of last season.”
That’s way more goals! Uncle Bob did the responsible thing and asked coaches for an explanation but they gave bad answers, like crediting the jump in offense to good young players in the NHL and the World Cup because all the league’s best players got a three-week head-start on the rest of the league. I disagree with all of it. There have always been good young players and there are just as many World Cup players having bad starts as good starts.
— NHL (@NHL) October 26, 2016
My take: scoring is up because referees are awarding more power plays. Your knee-jerk response is to say, “Dave, the great Bob McKenzie did all the legwork for this answer and showed there has been only one more power-play goal scored, so that can’t be what’s happening.” Ah, you are misunderstanding. I’m not saying scoring is up because of power plays. I’m saying scoring is up because referees are calling more penalties.
Through 80 games, there has been an average of 7.28 power plays per game, the highest it’s been since 2009-10, when it was 7.42. I’ve attended six games so far this season as a media member (I’m in the midst of a 10 games in 14 days stretch and beginning to regret being born) and there is way more flow than there has been in the past. There have also been more penalties called in situations that may have resulted in a no-call last season. I think the threat of penalties more than the penalties themselves has translated into fewer obstruction plays overall, which means freer skating, which means better scoring chances, which means more goals.
In that 2009-10 season, teams averaged 5.68 goals per game; right now, it’s 6.08. The average save percentage now is .903; then, it was .911. That seems to say things will level off, but I think as long officials don’t start letting players get away with sticks across hands and interference like they did in recent years, it won’t drop too much, if at all.
Like Uncle Bob said, power-play goals haven’t increased despite more power-play chances, but that will change and offset any 5-on-5 decrease if penalties are called at the same rate. The other reason I think the scoring level maintains and doesn’t dip to 2009-10 levels is because over the past six years, the league has rid itself of a lot of useless face-punchers and heavy-footed defensemen, so the talent level is higher.
I’m bullish on the NHL being good this year. I’m not drunk. Gary Bettman isn’t holding a gun to my head. I swear.
2. Bad vs. bad
@davelozo Who wins a playoff series first: Columbus or Las Vegas?
— Jon Reed (@JonDReed) October 24, 2016
Neither. Columbus is one of seven teams contracted during the next lockout. Las Vegas misses the postseason during its first 20 seasons, then the NHL folds when climate change results in too many franchises existing underwater.
3. Nice combinations
I’m not doing a multiple of 69. That requires addition and division. My apartment will look like the mail room on It’s Always Sunny when Charlie is trying to figure out Pepe Silvia. This way, the decisions are tougher, because the likes of Connor McDavid (97) and Sidney Crosby (87) are off the board because they apparently think they’re too cool to have a jersey number that can be added to something else to get 69.
I’d go Cory Schneider (35), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) and Anze Kopitar (11)
A few other good 69 combinations:
Erik Karlsson (65), John Klingberg (3), Roberto Luongo (1)
Kris Letang (58), Taylor Hall (9), Duncan Keith (2)
Jamie Benn (14), Kevin Shattenkirk (22), Henrik Sedin (33)
Carey Price (31), Claude Giroux (28), Corey Perry (10)
Jonathan Drouin (27), Wayne Simmonds (17), Jonas Brodin (25)
You get it. Sixty-nine. Thank you to whoever builds the first 69 NHL roster generator web site. You’ve got a RT waiting from me. Create your combinations and tweet them at, I don’t know, Donald Trump. Anyone but me.
4. Six is good
— Taylor Baird (@taylordbaird) October 24, 2016
No. It’d be a great middle-six, though.
5. Would you bone a robot?
My follow-up question was, “You mean like C-3P0 or like a sex robot from Westworld?” She meant the sex robots on Westworld. I would not bone C-3P0. Nothing against him, but he’s all metal. I also would not bone a Terminator, Dot Matrix from Spaceballs or Centennial Man.
As for the sex robots on Westworld, for three episodes, that answer was yes. If I’m paying $40,000 to attend an amusement park where sex robots are part of the attraction, I am 100 percent boning a robot. I would do so partly out of curiosity and partly out of the fact guys will have sex with vacuum cleaners if the mood strikes. I won’t pretend the idea of a Thandie Newton sex robot doesn’t intrigue me. Remember the Futurama where Fry gets the Lucy Liu robot? In the future, I would be Fry.
Then I watched episode four and now I’m not so sure I would do any of that. I’d probably just go shoot bandits and eat steak. Why? Spoiler ahead, but in the final scene of episode four, the Thandie Newton sex robot slices open her stomach and extracts a bullet that entered her body during a previous incarnation of her robot existence. It’s been sitting in there for what? Forty years maybe? Maybe 30 years?
If that’s what’s inside her robot stomach after 40 years, what do you think is inside her robot vagina after four hours? Like, what if after my train pulls into Westworld and I get to the bar/brothel, four Martin Shkreli hedge fund douchebag types just had an unprotected orgy with the sex robot I like? Most dudes don’t wipe down gym equipment after they use it, so my sex robot is unquestionably filled and coated with germs that a little hand sanitizer and towel wipe aren’t fixing.
So if park employees aren’t cleaning bullets out of sex robots, that means they’re not cleaning anything out of the sex robots. I’m not boning a Westworld sex robot without some assurances about the robot’s self-cleaning nature or a scene where a janitor is in there with a Super Soaker and one of those dental mirrors. Otherwise, I’d prefer to have a duel at dawn with a McPoyle. No sex robots for me. No sir, no way.
Who am I kidding? After three shots of whisky, I’d do it. They’re sex robots. It’d be like going to Disney and not riding Space Mountain, the sex robot of roller coasters, as my grandmother called it.
Thanks for reading the world’s best hockey/sex robot mailbag.