# Petshark: Talking Stick

## What’s old is not new

Last week I wondered who would start better, older players or younger ones in the NHL?  That's what I was wondering as I watched the Sharks win their first game of the season.  The win was terribly exciting and a lot of fun to watch.  The joy and excitement even got through the haze of non-hockey distraction that overwhelmed me this past weekend.  But that was yesterday.  Back to the present question, and I don't mean Scott Gomez.  That has yet to be answered and cannot be measured with fuzzy math.  The answer to my question depends, of course, on how you define "better," and also what you call "older."

"Better:" Scoring goals is important, but helping someone score a goal is important too.  Things is,  it's much easier to scan a day's results and find the goal scorers.  So we'll go with goals.  That leaves out goalies but this isn't a scientific investigation and everyone knows goalies are different.

"Older:" This is a lot more difficult than I anticipated when I first asked this question.   Work as you might, your body will start slipping when you hit 30.  But many of the NHL's top players are at or near that mark, so it isn't fair to say 30 is "older."  On average, there are more players playing under 30 than over, but the guys who are still playing over 30 are probably exceptional, there's a reason they are still playing.  The best 28 year old players can still demand ridiculous big contracts, 28 can't be "old."  If you scan the bios of active NHL skaters, and go to page 9 of the 18+ pages, you're in the 28-29 year range.  So there, that's where I'll draw my line: 29 is "older."  Someone get me a walker.

Here are the weekend's results by age of goal scorer:

Saturday:
Penguins @ Flyers: 31,25,25,33: Avg 28.5
Sens @ Jets: 27, 28, 33, 22, 23: Avg 26.6
Blackhawks @ Kings: 24, 34, 24, 24, 34, 23, 34: Avg 28.1
Rangers @ Bruins: 24, 28, 32, 29: Avg 28.2
Maple Leafs @ Habs: 22, 26, 34: Avg 27.3
Devils @ Islanders: 27, 22, 28: Avg  25.6
Caps @ Lightning: 33, 32, 32, 32, 37, 26, 37, 23, 33:  Avg 31.6
Hurricanes @ Panthers: 19, 33, 33, 29, 39, 29: Avg 30.3
Red Wings @ Blues: 21, 25, 21, 26, 25, 24: Avg 23.6
Blue Jackets @ Predators: 31, 25, 22, 24: Avg 25.5
Coyotes @ Stars: 26, 31, 40, 40, 31, 27: Avg 32.5
Avalanche @ Wild: 27, 32, 20, 32, 28, 28: Avg 27.8
Ducks @ Canucks: 27, 30, 32, 36, 27, 27, 21, 42, 26, 42: Avg 31

Total average age of goal scorers for Day One: 28.2

Sunday: (I underlined the teams who were playing their second game.)
Flyers @ Sabres: 30, 20, 25, 29, 22, 22, 29: Avg 25.3
Sharks @ Flames: 29, 33, 31, 33, 36: Avg 32.4
Penguins @ Rangers: 25, 27, 26, 27, 33, 25, 31, 28, 25: Avg 27.4
Stars @ Wild: 28: Avg 28
Oilers @ Canucks: 26, 21, 22, 29: Avg 24.5
Blackhawks @ Coyotes: 31, 26, 30, 31, 34, 27, 34, 25, 36, 26: Avg 30

Total average age of goal scorers for Day Two: 27.93

Total average age of goal scorers for NHL opening weekend 2013: 28.11

So, what do I get from that?  In most cases, the goal scorer age dropped for games involving teams on their second game in two days.  But not in all cases.  The exception was the last game, and that number went up from the Blackhawks' first game, dropped from the Coyotes' first.  Is this evidence that the older players were more tired?   It's an awfully small and muddy sample, but maybe.

Overall, the numbers are higher than I expected.  Factor in how more of the younger players were playing during the lockout.  On top of being younger, they should have been more game ready than those who didn't play before Saturday.   Balance that against the possibility that older players probably know more about how to condition themselves than younger ones do, having more experience at it.  Add in the fact that the average age in the league is between 28 and 29,  and really the average goal-scorer age should have been lower during that first weekend.  Because.  Because being old is bad.

It shouldn't be the same as the average age in the league!  That's no answer!!!  Age is really really important, that's why people talk about it!  That's why they sell all those products on tv to make you look younger.  That's why people think the Sharks will have such troubles this season.  Older players will take longer to get up to game speed, they will tire sooner.  You cannot win if you are depending on old people!

That's what I hear anyway.   The first weekend certainly doesn't back it up.

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Tags: age, opening+weekend, scoring

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