Much has been made this season about the Florida Panthers ability to win games when scoring three or more goals in a game. There’s no doubt that wins commonly follow a Panthers 3+ goal game. In fact, they have suffered just 5 losses when scoring 3 or more goals in a game, and only 2 in regulation. That’s good for a 34-2-3 record and a .835 winning percentage, the 3rd best of any NHL team.
However, there is a catch: everyone wins when they score three or more goals. Even bad teams.
Let us take the Edmonton Oilers for example. You remember this team, this cartoon calamity of a hockey team. They entered this morning tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for dead last in the league. Do you know what their record is when scoring three or more goals? 22-9-3, or a .610 winning percentage, also dead last in the league. Though obviously not as impressive as the Panthers record, this is still a very significant mark for this team. Those 22 wins represent all but 8 of their total victories.
Let us take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs as well. They rank 27th in the league with a .667 winning percentage when scoring 3 or more goals. What is their record? 25-5-6. All but 3 of their victories have come by way of scoring 3 goals or more.
Now, why is this so? The answer is rather simple: this is a 3-2 hockey league, based on how many goals are scored. The average team scores around 2.6 goals per game, so naturally this is a mark that you either want to meet or exceed to win. Conveniently, this point rests between 2 and 3 goals, meaning rounding that goal total up to 3 is imperative. Thus, who ever gets to 3 goals first wins most of the time.
Or, conversely, a team that gives up 2 or fewer goals wins most of the time. In fact, this is even more impressive for the Panthers. The Panthers have a super 37-1-2 record when holding opponents to 2 goals or fewer. That’s a .874 winning percentage. Those 37 wins are tied with Chicago for 4th best, and trails only Washington (44), Los Angeles (38), and the New York Rangers (38).
Of course, the same thing that applies to scoring 3 or more goals also applies to allowing 2 or fewer goals. The Edmonton Oilers also possess the worst record when giving up 2 or fewer goals, just like the reverse. They post a 23-8-4 record when doing so, at a .610 winning percentage, a mark that is just as strong and significant as the former. Likewise, the Maple Leafs are also 27th in the league with a 23-7-3 record, a .662 winning percentage.
In closing, everyone wins when giving up 2 or fewer goals. Everyone wins when scoring 3 or more goals. It’s a 3-2 hockey league.