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Principe's Blog: Ah, Shootout

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall is denied by Nashville's Pekka Rinne in the shootout on January 23, 2011 (Photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC).

Before I get into my blog for this week let me say that I know Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle are out and that Shawn Horcoff is just back in the lineup. I still am befuddled by Edmonton in the shootout this year.

This team is too good when it comes to scoring talent not to be better when it's a one-on-one scenario. The Oilers sit with a 1-7 record in the shootout heading into their last two games before the All-Star break.

Okay, they may have a team at the bottom of the standings but they should have a team closer to the top when it comes to the shootout. How does this sound for a shootout lineup? Hemsky, Eberle, Hall, Paajarvi, Omark, Gagner.

To me that sounds like a win, but that hasn't materialized for the Oilers and I'm not quite sure why that is the case. Easy answer is they're not scoring goals but it has to to be a littler deeper rooted problem than simply that.

Here are the numbers: Edmonton has had a total of 35 shots and scored six times in their eight shootouts. The players who led the way are Eberle and Hall with six shots each. Jordan has scored three times and Taylor twice. That adds up to five leaving a grand total of one goal to be shared by all the other shooters, which happen to be Omark (he has the other goal), Paajarvi, Cogliano, Brule, Jones, Penner, Fraser, Foster, Horcoff, Hemsky and Gagner.

While I am mildly surprised that Hemsky and Penner are both 0-3 I am baffled at Sam Gagner's status of having five shots and yet he still doesn't have a goal. Can this be possible from that 18 year old kid who burst onto the scene as a rookie and made goalies look silly? Apparently it is.

Ironically as Sam has become a better player in the first 65 minutes of the game it's been the opposite when the clock is off. Those goalies I speak of include JS Giguere. Jiggy was months removed from a Stanley Cup title when, in Anaheim, he looked like a Duck out of water. This being done by the league's youngest player that season. Sam led all rookies with four shootout deciding goals. Now that Gagner magic has disappeared.

So has the entire team's mojo from that 2007-08 season when the the Oilers went a whopping 15-4 in the shootout. They were 8-1 at home and 7-3 on the road. Along with Sam's bullseye aim, Ales Hemsky also had four game-winning shootout goals and Shawn Horcoff pitched in with three.

While I've been focusing on the shooters it takes netminding to go along with it. That year the Oilers went 15-4 Edmonton goaltenders Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson faced 69 shots and they stopped 57 of them; they only allowed 12 goals. By comparison this year the duo of Nik Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk have also allowed 12 goals but they've come on 31 shots.

Whether it's the shooter or netminders or both this is a team with enough talent that it should be looking forward to shootouts and not dreading them.

Author: Gene Principe
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