A Plea to NHL Teams

San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton celebrates...
Feel free to put shots on goal, Joe. Just not 30 in one period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy NHL eve everyone!

Yes, it’s true. Hockey is back. Or for you social media types, #hockeyisback. The NHL drops the puck on a new season Saturday at 3 p.m. ET — just a little over three months late due to a labor dispute.

This has not been an easy time for Ryan. Thankfully he found football to help fill the void, but his new interest in the New York Jets began to fade around the time of the infamous “butt fumble” on Thanksgiving night.

So, yeah, Ryan is more than a little excited for Saturday. He has announced he will watch all 13 games and is not going to bed until 1 a.m. And you know what? If he can stay up, we might just let him.

There’s just one problem, and here’s where I need NHL teams to do their part.

You see, Ryan experiences the game just a little bit differently than most. He has favorite teams (Sharks, Devils) and a favorite player (San Jose’s Joe Thornton), but what he really loves about the game are numbers. Standings. Final scores. And more recently, a new favorite statistic: shots on goal. He will pour over old box scores for hours on end — we have to force him to take breaks — looking at the shots on goal total.

I’m not sure why this particular figure fascinates him, but it clearly does. After all, shots on goal don’t necessarily fit with his linear thought process. The team with more shots doesn’t always win, so it’s not as cut-and-dry as he would like. Shots on goal indicate which team is carrying the play, which is a messy gray area that often, but not always, correlates with who wins. Maybe that’s why he likes it — because it challenges normal logic. I don’t know.

The other day Ryan and were talking about the schedule format in this shortened NHL season. Teams play 48 games each, down from the normal 82. They also play more frequently. It was on that latter point that I made a mistake. I told him some strange things might happen because the teams are fatigued from playing more often.

He stopped me right there. This did not sit well with Ryan.

“You mean like one team might get 30 shots on goal in a period?” he asked.

Since teams often fail to reach 30 shots for an entire game, 30 in one period really would be extraordinary. I tried to explain how I didn’t think shots on goal was one of the areas that would be affected by the compressed schedule, but it was too late. Ryan continued to ask me about this every so often.

Last night, we were awoken by Ryan at 3 a.m. This used to be quite common, but has declined since we got him a weighted blanket. This time he was having a nightmare.

In my slumber, I barely stirred, but caught enough of his conversation with Veronica to figure out what was bothering him. He said that in his dream something “weird” had happened in an NHL game and he needed her to reassure him that what he had dreamt wasn’t real. She did so and he was soon back to sleep.

In the morning, Veronica asked if I had heard the conversation. Remembering it, I went to ask Ryan. He didn’t want to talk about it but nodded when I asked if he had dreamt about a team getting 30 shots on goal in a period.

I tried to reassure him this was unlikely but wouldn’t be a big deal if it occurred. I tried again, but failed, to figure out why this number bothers him so. All I got out of him was that it was “creepy.”

Somewhere, there is logic that I am missing. I can feel it. It is logic that would make the whole scenario make perfect sense if only I had the ability to think like my son. And so I will keep digging, keep trying to build a bridge to understanding.

In the meantime all I have is this — a plea to all 30 teams. Should you find yourselves absolutely dominating a period and seeing the shots in goal counter tick towards 30, would you mind calling off the dogs a bit?


5 thoughts on “A Plea to NHL Teams

  1. Just speculating here. Ryan counts shots on goal in order to calculate save percentage, right? And to determine the save percentage, he doesn’t divide saves by shots, rather he has a mental chart of shots, saves, and corresponding save percentage memorized. 30 shots in a period would likely mean north of 50 shots in the game, and since that happens so infrequently, maybe he hasn’t memorized those numbers. So the possibility of not being able to report the save percentage at the end of the game could be causing his anxiety. I could be off base here (or have my facts wrong) but just a thought.


    1. It’s entirely possible — and a very good theory. I will ask him. You’re correct in that he doesn’t do the math in his head, he has memorized the save percentage based on common shot/goal totals.


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