The shootout is a subject of much debate in the hockey world. For some, a short skills competition at the end of the game is a fine way to decide who earns the extra point. For others, another few minutes of the new 3-on-3 would be a dream. For other still, ties were never an issue, and they’d be fine with their inclusion once again.
Whichever side of the argument you find yourself, the simple fact is that they are in the NHL right now. Every team has to compete in them throughout the season for those all important extra points. This season only Dallas has yet to be involved in a shootout, while Philadelphia leads the way with nine games ending in one.
The old adage of “it all evens out in the end” almost proves true, as if you were to remove the shootout and just award both teams with a single point if the game was tied after overtime, not a single team would leapfrog another in the standings. It would, however, bring some teams into a tie (points-wise).
The Maple Leafs, with their awful 1-5 record would be tied with their rival Ottawa Senators, instead of chasing them by two points. They would also pull ahead of the Panthers, a team they’re tied with who have played in eight shootouts so far (second most in the league).
Suddenly the Metropolitan would be even tighter, with Washington and Columbus pulling even at the top. Philadelphia would fall into a tie with the Maple Leafs, Senators and Hurricanes for that last wildcard spot however, making things much more interesting.
In the west, where there haven’t been nearly as many shootouts would mostly see the bottom falling out of the standings. Vancouver would drop further back despite their recent run, and Arizona would be in a dog fight with Colorado for the worst team in the NHL; their 4-1 record in shootouts is the best thing about their season thus far.
For individual performances, Thomas Vanek ranks among the best in the league. He’s scored on all three of his attempts this season. Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov and Jakub Voracek all lead with four goals, though it’s taken each of them at least seven attempts. The worst is Nick Cousins, who has failed to score on each of his six attempts, though Kyle Okposo doesn’t fall far behind going 0-5. Despite leading the league in goals, Sidney Crosby is 0-2 this season in the shootout.
For goaltenders, Steve Mason has faced the most shots. He’s stopped 23 of 30 shooters, registering a pretty solid 76.7 save percentage. Braden Holtby has allowed the most, getting scored on an unbelievable 9 out of 14 times. There are six goaltenders who have stopped every shot they’ve faced, though they’ve all faced seven or fewer. Tuukka Rask is the man to beat having stopped 16 of 19 attempts. Robin Lehner is on the other side, allowing all six shooters he’s faced to score.
It’s an interesting thing, the shootout. Even players who have incredible success during the game find it difficult to score, while others who aren’t expected to be offensive forces find the back of the net with ease. For now, the shootout is a part of the game – winning there may be the difference between making or missing the playoffs.