Now that we’ve kicked out the last Thanksgiving relative and tossed the last dry leftover drumstick, most NHL teams this week are about to hit the 30 game milestone. One stat that intrigues me — out of the 405 games that have been played this season, 126 have been decided by a shootout.
You don’t have to attend Red Deer Jr High to figure out that more than 1 in 4 games this year have not only gone into overtime, but the bonus point has been decided by a select few shooters and netminders.
Who’s the best? The Washington Capitals are 6-2 (also the most shootouts so far). Tampa Bay is 3-0, Chicago has won four shootouts, same goes for the LA Kings. Oh, and the Penguins are a perfect 2-0.
On the other short end of the stick, the Devils are 0-4, Panthers 2-4, Ottawa stumbling along at 0-3 and Nashville sporting the same goose egg 0-3.
See the trend? A lot of “bonus” points gobbled up by teams in playoff positions, while others are on the outside, gawking in the frozen window. Through an 82-game campaign, if you said the difference between 11 and 4, and 4 and 11, is a playoff spot, you may go to the front of the class. These are precious points my classmates!
NHL shootout leaders do not necessarily have names like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos or Randy Moller. Goalies with the best GAA (Goals against average) and save %, don’t always translate to perfect shootout records.
So where’s the logic? Some teams practice the shootout, others don’t. The Cats' Jonathan Huberdeau has the best breakaway “move” on the team. But Huby can’t win it by himself. Coaches, players, owners and media now spend ungodly hours pouring over stats, video and ouija boards.
I heard the Dean of Mathematic Science, he of prestigious Red Deer Community College, recently commissioned an inquiry, gathering puck-head students from Saskatoon to Sicamous to study the “one-on-one” phenomenon. I know one thing’s for sure, this student of the game will remain confused and stuck on the bench.