There are few rivalries more heated than the ones among the New York metropolitan area's three NHL teams, and if anything, the arrival of the shootout three years ago only intensified the battles.
Most games among the New York Rangers
, New York Islanders
and New Jersey Devils
-- all located within a span of about 30 miles -- are close. And since the shootout was implemented in 2005, 16 of the 72 games (22.2 percent) involving two of the three teams have gone to shootouts, well above the NHL average of 12.6 percent.
Not surprisingly, all three teams are well above .500 in shootouts -- largely because of three goaltenders who are among the NHL's best at the penalty-shot competition.
New Jersey's Martin Brodeur
is every bit as good at shootouts as he is during regular play. Brodeur's 26 wins in 39 shootouts are the most in the NHL. He's stopped a record 101 shootout attempts and is coming off a season in which he won 8 of 12 shootouts while turning aside 32 of 43 shots, a .744 save percentage.
But two of Brodeur's losses last season came to the same team and the same goaltender -- the New York Rangers
and Henrik Lundqvist
. The Rangers have had seven lifetime shootouts against Brodeur and the Devils and have won four; Lundqvist and Brodeur have split six decisions. Lundqvist's 18-14 career record isn't as good as Brodeur's, but his .760 save percentage is the best among goaltenders who've faced 70 or more shots.
On Long Island, Rick DiPietro
's performance in shootouts is one of the main reasons the undermanned New York Islanders
have been more competitive than their stats would indicate. DiPietro has excelled against both local rivals, winning two of three shootouts against both. Overall, he's 16-9 (.640) with a .745 save percentage.
The New York-area teams aren't the only ones in the East to have good shootout stoppers:
Kari Lehtonen, Thrashers --
Lehtonen has had trouble staying healthy during his NHL career, but stopping opponents in shootouts has come easily. Lehtonen won four of seven decisions last season with an excellent .722 save percentage. For his career, he's 16-7 with a .738 percentage.
Johan Hedberg, Thrashers --
The Thrashers may have the best 1-2 combo among shootout goaltenders thanks to Hedberg, who has excelled in both Dallas and Atlanta. Hedberg was 5-3 last season while allowing just 7 goals on 31 attempts. Those losses were the first of his career -- but he's still 9-3 lifetime with a .792 save percentage.
Jose Theodore, Capitals --
Theodore comes to Washington after reviving his career with a solid season in Colorado, a performance that included a 6-1 record and a .786 save percentage in shootouts. Though he saw limited duty in the two previous seasons for the Avs, Theodore has a 9-2 career mark and a save percentage of .825, the highest among goaltenders likely to be on NHL rosters at the start of the season.
Manny Fernandez, Bruins --
Injuries limited Fernandez to only one shootout last season (he stopped all 3 shots and won). But Fernandez has a solid shootout resume -- he's 12-3 overall (11-3 with Minnesota before coming to Boston) with a .759 save percentage. The Wild missed him badly last season.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins --
Like Fernandez, Fleury was limited by injury to only one shootout in which he stopped all 3 shots and won. Overall, he's 10-7 (including a six-game winning streak) with a .723 save percentage.
Carey Price, Canadiens --
Price's first NHL season was a resounding success, and that included his work in shootouts. The rookie netminder won three of five games and had a save percentage of .818, the best of any goaltender in the East who saw 20 or more shots.