It has been debated over the years, many coaches believe it is the key to winning games, players feel the same way, but is it really important to score first? Even if your opponent scores on you first, the score is only 1-0, is it that hard to come back from? Apparently so, as just 5 of 25 NHL teams had winning percentages under .500 when they scored first. This season, just 4 of 30 teams have winning percentages under .500. What’s interesting to note is that 2 of the 5 teams who had a sub-.500 winning percentage last season have a sub-.500 winning percentage this season. What teams are they? Read the chart below to find out:
|Team||02-03 record||Win %||03-04 record||Win %|
|4) New Jersey||34-6-7-1||.708||4-2-3-0||.444|
|15) Tampa Bay||24-8-6-2||.600||6-0-0-0||1.000|
|16) New York I.||21-8-7-1||.568||5-0-2-0||.714|
|19) St. Louis||19-9-5-3||.528||5-1-0-0||.833|
|20) Los Angeles||22-13-4-3||.524||6-2-0-0||.750|
|26) New York R.||20-15-6-1||.476||4-1-0-1||.667|
|30) San Jose||16-14-5-5||.400||1-0-4-0||.200|
Current records are as of games played through the afternoon of Saturday, November 8, 2003. Winning percentage is calculated by the number of wins divided by total games played in which the team scored first.
As you can see, Carolina and San Jose are the 2 teams that have a winning percentage below .500 in both seasons, although this season is still young. What’s interesting to note as well is that no team in the bottom 10 actually made the playoffs last season. When you looks closer, you can see that only 1 team out the top-16 actually did not make the playoffs last season (Phoenix), while only one out of the other 14 made the postseason (St. Louis). So, does scoring first lead to success? Apparently so, although I still say the team that scores most will win, regardless of who scores first.
Check back next Saturday for a follow-up to this article where I will breakdown the team records when they don’t score first.
Statistics courtesy of the National Hockey League.