It was hard to miss on Wednesday night.
As the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals played out their nearly five hour, three overtime Game 3, there were bodies everywhere in front of their goaltenders as two of the top shot blocking teams duked it out.
Among teams that made the playoffs this season, the Rangers blocked the most shots with 1,338 in 82 games.
The new look Caps weren't far behind at 1,302.
The Washington Times' Stephen Whyno had a good piece on this trend before the series started, and it's played out as predicted.
“You can just tell their team by all of them having extra padding on their gloves just because everyone goes down and blocks shots,” Caps winger Troy Brouwer said of the Rangers. “When you get a whole bunch of guys that do that, you can just tell how committed they are towards their team game.”
“You have to try to miss the net a little bit. You just have to the shoot by the block,” coach Dale Hunter added. “You can’t hit the net as much so you have to miss the net by 10 feet and then hopefully it bounces back out in front.”
We often like to blame the goalies for the fact scoring is down of late, but it certainly doesn't help that there are now 12 goalies on the ice in many games.
That's a change from even 10 years ago, when the emphasis on shot blocking was more during penalty kills and only by defencemen.
In these playoffs, teams have blocked an average of 31.6 shots per game, which is one of the highest marks since the league began tracking the stat back in 1998.
A few more long overtime games like Wednesday's, when there were 81 blocks between the two teams, and that blocks per game number will creep up even more.
Consider that the average shooting percentage is roughly 9.1 per cent (or a goal on every 11 shots) and an extra six or seven shot blocks a game could theoretically make an impact.
Instead of the Dead Puck Era from just prior to the lockout maybe we can call this one the Blocked Puck Era?