If you’re a fan of tight-checking, defensive hockey, or you’re a goalie, you may not have enjoyed the first month of the 2019-20 NHL season.
Everyone else, on the other hand, had a whale of a time. That’s because the league as a whole and many of its individual stars set a torrid pace and lit up scoresheets in October.
In fact, in the 195 total games played in the opening month of the season teams averaged 3.11 goals per game (GPG). That puts the NHL on pace to have its highest GPG average since the 1995-96 season when teams averaged 3.14 GPG.
According to an October stat pack the NHL sent out Friday, this is the third consecutive year where NHL games have averaged at least 6.0 GPG through the first 195 contests, which is something that hasn’t happened in a quarter century.
GPG has increased each of the past three seasons and the trend has continued into a fourth consecutive year thus far, however keep in mind scoring usually decreases slightly once teams settle into the season and find their respective grooves. Time will tell whether or not teams are producing at a sustainable rate.
The Nashville Predators led the month with 4.08 GPG, while the 2.21 GPG their Central Division rival Dallas Stars averaged ranked 31st.
Ninety of the 195 games played (46 per cent) ended in comeback wins, 31 of which were multi-goal comeback victories and both marked new records for the month of October. Of those 31 multi-goal comeback wins, 15 happened in the third period, also a new October record.
The Edmonton Oilers in particular were champions of the comeback. They became the first team in NHL history to start a season 5-0-0 with each win being of the comeback variety.
Of course, much of that team success can be attributed directly to Edmonton’s top stars.
Leon Draisaitl led the way with a league-leading 12 goals and 25 points. The German forward was one of five players to register at least 11 goals in the month. That has only happened two previous times in the NHL’s expansion era, in 1981-82 and 1982-83 when teams averaged a record 4.01 and 3.86 GPG, respectively, in those seasons.
This is also the first time in 26 years that saw five players hit the 20-point plateau in October. The last time it happened Wayne Gretzky led a group of fellow Hall of Famers Eric Lindros, Sergei Fedorov, Joe Sakic and Mark Recchi.
Gretzky finished that year with 130 points that earned him his 10th and final Art Ross Trophy. At his current pace, Draisaitl would finish with 70 goals, 76 assists and 146 points over an 82-game schedule.
It wasn’t only forwards putting up points either.
Washington Capitals blue-liner John Carlson tied a franchise record held by Alex Ovechkin by recording 23 points during a single month. His 23 points are the second-most by a defenceman in October since Al MacInnis put up 25 in October 1990.
It’ll be interesting to see what November has in store.