Fact or Fiction? The 92/93 was a more difficult season to score in than the '80s.

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by daver, Oct 21, 2018.

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Fact or Fiction? The 92/93 season was more difficult to score in than the '80s.

Poll closed Oct 28, 2018.
  1. Fact

    31.6%
  2. Fiction

    68.4%
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  1. daver

    daver Registered User

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    I see this argument thrown out many times based solely on league GPG. The point totals and PPGs of the Top 50 scorers would indicate this season was quite similar to most seasons from the '80s. A common response to this is that the league had more talented players than in the '80s.

    # of players below a PPG in the Top 50 Scorers

    81/82 - 3
    82/83 - 10
    83/84 - 3
    84/85 - 11
    85/86 - 7
    86/87 - 16
    87/88 - 6
    88/89 - 6
    89/90 - 9
    90/91 - 17
    91/92- 16
    92/93- 2
    93/94 - 13
    94/95 - 23

    There seems to be a noticeably decline in scoring by the elite offensive players starting in 89/90 but the 92/93 clearly stands out as an anomaly. The argument that there were more elite offensive players in 92/93 than in the '80s which explains the high number of PPG players does not hold water as the two seasons before and after 92/93 season saw a lower number of PPG players than every season from the '80s except one.
     
  2. BenchBrawl

    BenchBrawl joueur de hockey

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    Was 1992-1993 a season where the Top 50 in PPG was closest to the Top 50 scorers, meaning there were less injuries among top players? It's a bizarre season for sure.
     
  3. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Someone needs to take the top 20 or whatever scorers from 1992-93 and subtract their points from their teams' final 4 games of the season, to make 80 games (as all previous seasons back to the late 70s were). This would at least give us more comparable point totals. For example:

    150 points (56 GP) - Mario Lemieux
    143 points - Pat Lafontaine
    134 points - Adam Oates
    129 points - Steve Yzerman
    127 points - Selanne
    125 points - P. Turgeon

    Hm, well it still looks pretty gaudy.
     
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  4. daver

    daver Registered User

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    Here are the numbers of players who were a PPG or above in the Top 51 to 100 for the seasons that had the most PPG players in the Top 50.

    81/82 - 14
    83/84 - 5
    87/88 - 5
    88/89 - 6
    92/93 - 15

    92/93 doesn't stand out as being a season where the top players were the most uninjured. This really shows that 92/93 and 81/82 were the easiest seasons.
     
  5. daver

    daver Registered User

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    Comparing PPGs should eliminate this dynamic but your point stands, the numbers are gaudy. I am not pushing a narrative that 92/93 should be viewed as an anomoly compared to any season from the '80s but it is interesting to note that 86/87 seemed like an anomaly in the '80s which was the first year Wayne did not hit 200 points in six seasons.
     
  6. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Check again:

    Wayne Gretzky Stats | Hockey-Reference.com
     
  7. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Weren't goalies quite a bit better by 92-93 then they were in some of the 80s? Maybe "quite a bit better" is a lot, but at least better? That, combined with the more goals per game in the 80s would lead me to believe it's easier to score goals then.

    What were power plays like in 93 vs in the year right before, or right after, and vs some of the years in the 80s? More power plays can help star player score more points, and this should be a factor in 93 I expect.
     
  8. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Indeed, 1986-87 is an interesting season, scoring-wise. The previous year, 1985-86, I believe was the 2nd-highest scoring season of the 80s, but suddenly in 1986-87 scoring went notably down.

    Mario missed 17 games, but even healthy his stats weren't quite a good as the year before. The Oilers were hot down the stretch, which resulted in Kurri and Messier finishing 2nd (tied) and 4th in NHL scoring.

    I personally think Gretzky's 1986-87 regular season is just as good -- and probably in many ways, better -- as his 1985-86 (215 point) season. His plus/minus, for one thing, was slightly higher in 1987, despite Edmonton's scoring 54 fewer goals and Gretzky himself scoring 32 fewer points. But it was really in the first half of 1986-87 that Gretzky carried the team on his shoulders, probably more than he had done since 1981-82.

    It's all but forgotten by anyone but Oilers' historians (like me), but in the first part of 1986-87 the Oilers were mediocre. They started the season 10-8-1, and were generally very underwhelming until mid-December (after which time they went 34-13-5). Gretzky scored 40 goals in the first 40 games, and had 98 points, going +43. So at mid-season, he was on pace for 80 goals and 196 points. (It's amazing to me that Gretzky was +43, while his linemate Jari Kurri was +19. How does that work? Messier was +11 at mid-season.) Anyway, in the second half when the team woke up and started putting distance between themselves and Calgary/Winnipeg, Wayne quieted down a bit, scoring only 22 goals in the second half. He also scored only 2 points in the last five games of the season (going pointless in three straight for the first time since his rookie season), as he had a minor injury and, so he later said, was tired for the first time. He then sat out the last game of the season.

    So, clearly, he could have been close to 200 points again, and also 1986-87 was actually his largest-ever margin of victory in the scoring race.

    The average NHL team's power-play opportunities dropped from 370 to 344 from '86 to '87, but would that alone explain the 'outlier' status of 1986-87 in terms of high-end scoring? There must have been something else going on there. It's also possible that the Oilers' defeat the previous spring to a 4-line, disciplined Calgary team and Patrick Roy's surprising heroics in the '86 playoffs inspired more coaches to focus a bit more in defence. I dunno.
     
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  9. daver

    daver Registered User

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    Good point. There a clear decline in league-wide scoring as the '90s started but 92/93 saw PP scoring take a jump which can explain why the top players' PPGs also took an unexpected jump back up.

    Not sure I would go down the "goalies were better" route as a unique reason why scoring went down; it simply went down and all players were affected by it. PP scoring in any given is easily the biggest influencer of why the star players have some different level of production in years where the league GPG was similar.
     
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  10. daver

    daver Registered User

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  11. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Not really. In 1986-87, he had 181 points in 74 games, and in 1982-83 he had 179 points in 74 games. And this despite the Oilers scoring far fewer goals in '87.

    The difference is that by 1987 nobody on the Oilers, or even the fanbase, cared a whit about individual stats. Gretzky was hurt a bit at the end of the season, and also didn't care, just wanted to rest and get ready for the playoffs.
     
  12. ehhedler

    ehhedler Registered User

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    I think the scoring in 92–93 was heavily tilted towards 1st liners, that's why you had so many star players with 50+ goals and 100+ points. It had something to do with an extra commercial break or something giving those players extra rest so they could be double shifted.

    If you look at the scoring by star players on teams with relatively shallow depth in 92–93, like Turgeon on the Islanders (132 points) or Selänne on the Jets (132) or Recchi in Philadelphia (123) or even Robitaille in Los Angeles (125) (Gretzky was injured half the season so Robitaille got to be the man), you will start to see a pattern. The same also goes for Buffalo (Lafontaine, Mogilny), Boston (Oates, Juneau) and Toronto (Gilmour). Notice also the discrepancy/gap between Red Wings #1 and #2 center horse (137/87 = 50 points).

    Then look at teams who ran more of an evenly distributed two-line punch, like Calgary or Vancouver or Quebec and the numbers will start to look a little more modest or normal (Fleury had "only" 100 points, Bure "only" 110 and Sakic "only" 105).
     
  13. Troubadour

    Troubadour Registered User

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    What @ehhedler says. It was probably harder for second liners and anyone who did not see much PP time, on average easier for the first liners who were given a lot of leeway.
     
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  14. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    Damn, I hate it when stuff like this affects the game.
     
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  15. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Ehhedler explained most of it.

    Also a smaller factor is that the absolute garbage Ottawa and San Jose expansion teams increased the disparity between the highest scoring forwards (of which they had none) and everyone else.

    -----

    92-93 was the easiest season in NHL history for star players to score. For everyone else, it was like a typical early 90s season.
     
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  16. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    Dick Irvin has told the story about how before the 92-93 season started when the new longer commercial breaks were implemented, Scotty Bowman told him he had already calculated how much extra icetime he could get Lemieux by putting him on the shifts immediately before and after the breaks.
     
  17. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    Fact. All one has to do is simply watch and you can clearly see the difference. Those blue line slappers weren’t going in anymore. But Gretzky fan boys with never change so no point.
     
  18. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Love Scotty Bowman and his misdirects.

    Still the verifiable shot data shows Mario Lemieux was just below 5 shots per game as was his norm.

    Mario Lemieux Stats | Hockey-Reference.com

    BTW checking SOGs for the top 50 scorers will answer the question.
     
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  19. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    I always thought expansion played a factor in all the goals scored that yr. Either way it really was the last great offensive season the NHL ever had.
     
  20. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    I think we can see clearly by the numbers that 92-93 was not more difficult for stars to put up big numbers.

    I know it flies in the face of theory that the 80s NHL was garbage and suddenly a lot of the same players were so much better in the 90s.. but oh well too bad.. it was a strange season where there was expansion + a crackdown that caused a boost in PP opportunities + a new TV timeout that let coaches get their star players out on the ice while rested more.

    It added up to a bunch of career seasons..
     
  21. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    this is 1996, grasshopper—

     
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  22. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Credit to ehhedler for the best explanation.

    I guess it was just a 'perfect storm' sort of season for that: 4 extra games, League crackdown so more power-plays, longer TV time-outs meaning top-guys stay out longer and play full(er) power-plays, three new/recent expansion teams to beat up on, and a wealth of fresh, young talent in addition to the veterans of the mid-80s who were almost all still going strong. Other than maybe Pittsburgh, there were few(er) teams with superstar depth by 1992-93, meaning that nearly every established team had some elite first-line talent, and those first-liners really went to town.
     
  23. Troubadour

    Troubadour Registered User

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    These still happened, yes, but it's fair to acknowledge goalies were a good deal larger by the mid 90s than they had been in 1982. Because of that, some people label the 80s goaltending as bad, which is incorrect, but less room in the net generally does mean harder job for the scorers.

    So 5 on 5, I don't doubt scoring was more complicated in 92 than in 82.
     
  24. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Such goals could never happen nowadays, of course:
     
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  25. Troubadour

    Troubadour Registered User

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    95/96 was still pretty entertaining and good in the number dept too.
     

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