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Shootout retrospective: Seven-year history

Saturday, 07.21.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Shootout retrospective: Seven-year history
NHL.com looks at the players and teams that have separated themselves from the pack in the seven years of the shootout.

It's hard to believe, but the shootout is now seven years old -- and it's been used to decide more than 13 percent of NHL regular-season games (1,138 of 8,610) since the tiebreaker was adopted in 2005.

The stakes can be high: The Philadelphia Flyers' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final never would have happened if they hadn't beaten the New York Rangers in a shootout on the final day of the regular season. The New York Islanders made the postseason in 2006-07 by beating the New Jersey Devils in a shootout in their season finale. Last season, San Jose, Los Angeles and Calgary all had 34 non-shootout wins -- but the Sharks (nine shootout wins) and Kings (six) made the playoffs while the Flames, who went 3-9 in the tiebreaker, stayed home.

The shootout's seven seasons have shown that some players and some teams are better at it than others. Most interesting is the fact that some of hockey's biggest names and best teams have struggled, while a number of lesser lights have shone brightly.

Here's a look at some of the best of the shootout at age 7:

Tim Connolly
Tim Connolly
Center - TOR
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 36
SOG: 104 | +/-: -14
Perfection -- Five active players have scored on all of their shootout attempts -- but none has taken more than one. Nine players were perfect in 2011-12, but only one of them, Tim Connolly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had more than one attempt. Connolly was 2-for-2 last season after going 4-for-23 in the first six years of the shootout.

Four players -- Minnesota's Chuck Kobasew, Toronto's Clarke MacArthur, Florida's Sean Bergenheim and St. Louis' Patrik Berglund -- have never scored in a shootout in nine tries, the most attempts by an active shooter without beating the goaltender. Colorado's Paul Stastny is next at 0-for-8, followed by teammate David Jones at 0-for-7. Among players with 10 or more attempts, the lowest percentage belongs to Taylor Pyatt, now with the Rangers, who's 1-for-13 (7.7 percent).

The best career shooter who's taken 10 or more shots is former Minnesota Wild defenseman Petteri Nummelin, who went 8-for-10 (.800) in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Among active players who've taken 10 or more shots, the best is Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks at 66.7 percent (8-for-12). Raise the bar to 20 attempts and the only player who's connected on more than 60 percent is Islanders center Frans Nielsen (23-for-38, 60.5 percent).

Super stoppers -- Several goaltenders have had excellent seasons in shootouts, but it's hard to envision anyone topping the performance Mathieu Garon turned in for the Edmonton Oilers in 2007-08.

Garon was 16-18 in games decided in regulation and lost his lone overtime decision. But he was flawless in shootouts. Garon was 10-0 for the Oilers -- 5-0 at Rexall Place and 5-0 on the road -- allowing two goals on 32 attempts, a .932 percentage. He stopped all 14 attempts he faced in the five road wins.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick matched Garon's perfect 10-0 record in 2010-11, stopping 36 of 44 tries (.818). But Quick's magic vanished last season, when he went 6-8 and managed a save percentage of .660.

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The next-best perfect season was Semyon Varlamov's 8-0 mark for the Colorado Avalanche in 2011-12. The 24-year-old stopped all but two of the 24 shots he faced.

Garon, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Quick are tied for the single-season record in shootout wins with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Buffalo's Ryan Miller, each of whom had 10 in 2006-07.

Top guns misfire -- Steven Stamkos of the Lightning is one of the NHL's top guns -- his 156 goals in the past three seasons are more than anyone else in the League. But put Stamkos into a shootout and it's a different story.

Stamkos had the worst season by any shooter in 2010-11 when he went 0-for-7. Despite scoring a League-high 60 goals last season, he was 1-for-4 (25.0 percent) in the tiebreaker -- but that actually raised his career percentage to 20.0 (5-for-25).

Stamkos is in good company when it comes to shootout struggles. Among the players who've taken a season-long 0-fer with five or more attempts are Joe Sakic (2005-06, 0-for-7), Marian Gaborik (2005-06, 0-for-6), Paul Kariya (2007-08, 0-for-6), and Jarome Iginla (2008-09, 0-for-5). Viktor Stalberg, who was 2-for-2 in his career entering 2011-12, was a League-worst 0-for-5 for the Chicago Blackhawks last season.

The worst season ever belongs to forward James Neal, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-for-10 for the Dallas Stars in 2009-10 after scoring on five of seven tries as a rookie in '08-09. Neal bounced back by going 7-for-15 in the past two seasons.

The longest drought ever belongs to Islanders forward Trent Hunter, who missed 14 in a row before scoring on Nov. 11, 2009. The most successful streak shooter is Jussi Jokinen, now with the Carolina Hurricanes. Jokinen was with Dallas in 2005-06 when he scored on his first nine attempts.

No. 1 in shootouts too -- Brodeur, the winningest goaltender in NHL history, is back on top in shootout victories as well. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had passed Brodeur for the most shootout wins by a goaltender in 2010-11, but Brodeur's 7-4 mark last season put his career record at 42-21. Lundqvist went 4-3 and is 41-27 lifetime.

However, when it comes to winning percentage among goaltenders with 30 or more career decisions in shootouts, Brodeur's .667 mark isn't even the best on his own team. Johan Hedberg's .742 winning percentage (23-8) is tops; Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury is next at .679, with Brodeur third.

On the opposite end, Carolina's Cam Ward has the worst winning percentage of any goaltender who has been involved in 20 or more shootouts. Ward has lost 22 of his 33 tiebreakers, a .333 winning percentage. Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom went 6-6 last season and is 17-30 (.362) in his career. Backstrom's .571 save percentage is the worst of any goalie who has faced at least 75 shots.

Practice makes perfect -- The Atlantic Division has had the most success when it comes to the shootout. Four of the five Atlantic teams are among the top eight in winning percentage, led by the Devils at a League-high .651. The Penguins, Rangers and Islanders all are at .579 or better, giving the Atlantic four of the top seven shootout teams based on winning percentage. All four have gotten plenty of practice -- they've each taken part in at least 76 shootouts. The one Atlantic Division team that struggles in the shootout, the Flyers, has been involved in 64 -- and won 23, fewer than any team in the seven years of the shootout.

The shootout has been least kind to the Central Division, where only the Nashville Predators are over .500 (40-31, .563).

All four of the over-.500 Atlantic Division teams have done well at home. (Photo: Scott Levy/NHLI)

Home cooking -- All four of the over-.500 Atlantic Division teams have done well at home, something not a lot of other clubs can say. All are among the top five teams in shootout winning percentage when playing in front of their own fans -- a significant achievement in a League where road teams have a .526 winning percentage. In contrast, the Florida Panthers have played in 47 shootouts at the BankAtlantic Center and won 10, a League-worst .213 winning percentage. The Calgary Flames, with six wins in 25 tries (.240), have the fewest shootout victories at home.

Dallas, a power in the early years of the shootout, is still tied for tops in road wins with 29 in 44 tries; Pittsburgh has 29 wins in 47 road shootouts. Colorado has the best road winning percentage at .683 (28-13).

Carolina has a League-low 10 shootout wins and .333 winning percentage on the road (10-17) -- mostly due to a League-worst .546 save percentage.

'The Closer' -- Ilya Kovalchuk set shootout records for goals (11) and game-deciding goals (7) last season and was a big reason New Jersey won a League-high 12 tiebreakers.

Kovalchuk broke the single-season mark of 10 goals held by Wojtek Wolski, Jussi Jokinen and Alex Tanguay. Kovalchuk had one more game-decider than Adrian Aucoin, who had a remarkable six in nine attempts in 2009-10.

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness