CALGARY, AB – There are a plethora of situations that run through the head of Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley over the course of a game.
Squaring off in a shootout is one his mind frequently visits.
Despite dropping the team’s first shootout set of the season to the Vancouver Canucks, Hartley was more than ready for the extra-curriculars after 65 minutes of even action Wednesday night.
“We had prepared for this, the first game we felt that to go with the veterans,” Hartley said of his decision to pick Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross as Calgary’s five shooters to go up against Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.
Despite a combined career 30.4 per cent success rate of the five snipers, only Tanguay was able to beat Schneider, answering Alexandre Burrow's opening round goal and forcing the shootout beyond the first three rounds.
Zack Kassian’s deke on Miikka Kiprusoff in the top half of the fifth round went unanswered, lifting the Canucks to their first victory of the season and leaving Calgary still searching for theirs.
“We were looking for our first win and we felt we went with the guys that were the best suited for this,” Hartley said. “We play the same game before every game. We say after the second period if we’re tied we always look at it and everything. We’re all comfortable with our choices.”
A lot goes into choosing shooters.
Coaches study tapes, eye shooting percentages and historical evidence, even the way opposing goaltenders respond to different shooters based on handedness comes into play.
Scrutiny with senior video analyst Jamie Pringle and Chris Snow, director of video analysis also comes into play. A consult with goalie coach Clint Malarchuk is also factored into the equation. All angles are identified.
“We look at the goalies also, if we should use righties more than lefties and stuff like this so we go through lots of video with Chris Snow and Jamie and Clint,” Hartley said.
But even after all the analysis comes the most important variable and one that cannot be quantified – gut feeling.
“After this, it’s basically a gut feeling,” Hartley said. “I like to look how the guy performers in the game also. I feel if he’s in the game because it’s a 50/50 thing plus at the same time it’s a little bit of a gut feeling. You have to go with who you feel is going to get it.”
With 49 career shootout goals spread across his five shooters, Hartley’s radar was dialed in.
Unfortunately for the Calgary coach, so was Schneider, who has left Hartley and the Flames still searching for their first win of the season.