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Goal-scoring in NHL is highest in six seasons

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s early, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Through 182 games, NHL teams are averaging 2.78 goals per game in the 2016-17 season. This is the highest rate since 2010-11 when teams averaged 2.79 goals per game.

There’s plenty of reasons to justify the jump in scoring this season…

-The New York Rangers lead the NHL with 4.23 goals per game; a full one goal jump from last season’s leaders, the Dallas Stars. The Rangers have six scorers with at least five goals and have scored five goals in five straight games entering play on Tuesday night.

-Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby has only played six games this season due to a concussion suffered at the end of training camp. Regardless, Crosby is tied for the NHL goal lead with eight goals and leads the league with 1.67 points per game. The Penguins captain has scored in all but one game this season after taking 35 games last season to score eight goals.

-The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t been shy about scoring goals either. On Nov. 5, Columbus lit up the Montreal Canadiens to the tune of a 10-0 win. It was the first time that an NHL team had scored 10 goals in a regular season game since the 2010-11 season, when the St. Louis Blues defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 10-3. The last time a team scored 10 goals was when the Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 10-3, in Game 4 of the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

-Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov, a player who has never scored more than 22 goals in eight NHL seasons, already has eight this year and is third in the NHL in points per game with a 1.31 average.

-Anisimov isn’t the only player scoring at an unprecedented clip. Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak also is tied with Crosby and Anisimov for the league-lead in goals with eight. The third-year youngster’s high in goals is 15 in only 51 games last season. Pastrnak is on pace to score 86 more goals this season.

Scoring is up, but that’s not a bad thing. After years of debating whether to make goalie pads smaller or make nets wider, a decision can be postponed for now.

While close games are fun to watch, there’s nothing wrong with high-scoring games to be close. Obviously, the NHL doesn’t want scoring to be as high as it was in the mid-90s when goals per game dipped below 3.14 once.

An average of just under three goals a game is healthy. After only having one 50-goal scorer last season, it wouldn’t be bad for a couple more this year.

With fighting down across the NHL, the only highlight of games is now goals. The NHL needs its players to keep lighting the lamp. So far, that doesn’t seem to be a problem in 2016-17.

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