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Shootout-happy season benefits Coyotes most

Apr 9, 2010, 2:30 PM EDT

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aucoincloser.jpgEven though there’s still some hockey to be played, the 2009-10 season already broke the league’s record for most shootouts in a single campaign. NHL.com has some interesting (and, for the competitive balance of the game, disturbing) numbers about the charity point generators.

The 2009-10 season has seen a record 289 games that needed to go past regulation to determine a winner. That includes 113 games that have been decided in overtime, and a record 176 that have gone to a shootout. The previous highs were 282 overtime games, set last season, and 164 shootouts in 2006-07.

The article points out that goalies tend to have the advantage in the glorified skills competition, while there isn’t a clear advantage in who the home team is or which team elects to shoot first. The article also points out that this has been a year of epic shootouts (10 rounds or more) and that perhaps the Phoenix Coyotes can contribute some of their Cinderella success to the format.

A record seven shootouts have gone 10 rounds or more, including two (Detroit-Nashville, 11 rounds, March 27; Phoenix-Nashville, 10 rounds, Feb. 2) that decided games which were scoreless through 65 minutes.

Shootout brilliance can come from unexpected sources. Phoenix set an NHL record this season with 14 shootout wins; the Coyotes got a big boost from defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who had never taken a shootout attempt before this season but has earned the nickname “The Closer” by going 6-for-8 — with all six goals deciding the outcome.

More on shootouts – and what the league can do to make them less … convenient – later on today.

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