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New goalie pants haven't led to increase in league scoring

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It's been nearly two months since the NHL made all netminders undergo an equipment change in an effort to increase scoring across the league.

The switch officially happened on Feb. 4, with all of the league's goaltenders swapping their goalie pants for a new, slimmer variety, ostensibly leaving more space for skaters to snipe through.

But looking at the numbers up to this point, the change doesn't seem to have affected scoring across the league all that much. In fact, scoring has actually decreased slightly since the new pants were made mandatory.

There were 4,173 goals scored by the 30 NHL teams this season prior to the equipment change in early February, with clubs playing a combined 1,528 games up to that point.

That measured out to a league-wide scoring pace of 2.73 goals per game.

Heading into Sunday evening, NHL clubs had played a total of 694 games since the new goalie pants were instituted, scoring a combined 1,874 goals in the process.

Which, as it turns out, leaves them pretty much exactly where they were prior to the change:

  Total Games Played Total Goals Goals Per Game
Before Equipment Change 1528 4173 2.73
After Equipment Change 694 1874 2.70

There doesn't seem to be any reason why the switch would take an extensive amount of time to yield more goals. The thinking appeared to be that reducing the size of goaltenders' equipment would potentially create more space for skaters to shoot at, and perhaps slightly hinder netminders' ability to make saves, resulting in more scoring.

After nearly 700 games, that hasn't been the case.

Perhaps that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It likely isn't a huge shock to Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner said back in February that he didn't see the new pants being too much of an issue.

"If there is too tight equipment it doesn't allow you to bend the whole way so it leaves a hole," Holtby told's Dan Rosen at the time. "But we looked at it through video, slowed everything down, and there were no holes, so it's fine. I didn't find much of a difference at all."

Apparently, neither do the league's goal-scorers.

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