Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said something absolutely astonishing before Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
He announced a goalie change from Linus Ullmark to Jeremy Swayman, which was to be expected when one is down in a series. But to justify his decision, Cassidy said the following: "If it ends up being one of those 2-1 games, we need a performance where we get that timely save."
A 2-1 game?
After this regular season?
In these playoffs?
For decades, proud puckheads would salivate over games that had passionate intensity but little goal-scoring catharsis. We experienced a 1-0 Game 7 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders in last season's conference finals as a quintessential postseason tension convention. The casual fans saw it as a game with one goal scored.
The NHL has finally broken free of the stylistic stranglehold of "playoff hockey."
Before the 2022 Stanley Cup tournament, everyone around the NHL wondered if the regular season's astounding scoring rates -- 3.14 goals per team per game, the highest since the 1995-96 season -- would continue into the postseason.
The answer is an emphatic "yes," although you might have trouble hearing it over all of these blaring goal horns.
Entering Wednesday night, teams averaged 3.32 goals per team per game. If that holds for the rest of the first round, it would be the highest opening-round average since 1995 (3.40). If it holds for the next three rounds, it would be the highest postseason average since 1993 (3.42). "Those 2-1 games" that Cassidy and countless NHL fans expect to see in the playoffs, as per tradition? Only three of the first 36 games in this year's playoffs had a total score under four goals -- and two of them were in the same series (Calgary vs. Dallas)!
But like many good things in life, there have been unintended consequences to this offensive explosion in the playoffs. So far, we've heard a cacophony of goal songs while sacrificing competitive playoff games.
We've wanted increased goal scoring in the playoffs for so long. But did we really want it to look like this?