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Which teams (and players) are the best (and worst) at shootouts?

Aug 20, 2010, 11:00 PM EDT

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shootout1.jpgIt’s more than a mild understatement to say that shootouts aren’t popular with hardcore hockey fans. That being said, I think that we often take our distaste for the “glorified skills competition” too far.

At least in one area: analysis. Rarely do you hear a player touted for his penalty shot kills, unless it’s to be somewhat derisive (see: Jussi Jokinen before he broke through with the Carolina Hurricanes).

Yet, whatever you may say about shootouts themselves, a smart NHL team should try to wring out every point they can out of shootouts. So studying “what works” and “what doesn’t” actually makes plenty of sense, even if that can be a very inexact science itself.

John Kreiser of NHL.com put together an interesting compilation of stats regarding the last five years of the shootout. Let me point out some of the most interesting numbers.

First, a look at the most and least successful teams in the shootout.

Does practice make perfect? – The Rangers, Oilers and Boston Bruins have been the most active participants in shootouts. All have taken part in 65, with the Oilers winning 39, tying them with Dallas and New Jersey for the most in the shootout’s five-year history. The Rangers are next with 37 wins, while the Bruins have won 31 and own a shootout-record 34 losses.

At the other extreme, the Carolina Hurricanes have been involved in only 37 shootouts — and won just 17 of them. Calgary has taken part in only 38 and has just 14 victories, the fewest of any team.

He brings up the guys who were perfect in the shootout, with most of them only managing such a task by going 1-for-1. The exceptions were two borderline NHLers who went 3-for-3: Mike Santorelli and P.A. Parentau. Conversely, Chuck Kobasew, Paul Stastny and Taylor Pyatt are the most “snakebitten” shootout players.

shootout2.jpgFinally, here are a few details about the goalies who have had the most success. One might not surprise you, but the other could raise a few eyebrows.

Super stopper – Several goaltenders have had excellent seasons in shootouts, but it’s hard to envision anyone topping the performance Mathieu Garon turned in for Edmonton in 2007-08.

Garon was only 16-18 in games decided in regulation and lost his only overtime decision. But he was flawless — and nearly unbeatable — in shootouts. Garon was a perfect 10-0 for the Oilers, who set an NHL single-season record with 15 shootout wins (Phoenix came within one of that mark in 2009-10). Garon was 5-0 at Rexall Place and 5-0 on the road while allowing just two goals on 32 attempts, a .932 save percentage. He stopped all 14 attempts he faced in the five road wins.

[snip]

Another Brodeur best – Perhaps not surprisingly, the winningest goaltender in NHL history is also No. 1 in shootout victories. Martin Brodeur tops all goaltenders with 34 wins in the shootout, four more than Atlantic Division rival Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers. Brodeur is an equal-opportunity winner — he has 17 shootout wins at home and 17 on the road.

Brodeur took part in 10 shootouts last season, moving him back in front of Lundqvist for the most shootouts by a goaltender, with 52. Lundqvist (30-21 lifetime) is next with 51; Marty Turco, who recently signed with Chicago after spending his career with Dallas, is third with 50.

Perhaps it makes a bit of sense that Brodeur and Turco are strong in the skills competition since their styles are a little more based on athleticism and unpredictability.

You have to wonder if teams like the Calgary Flames might want to put a little more emphasis on the shootout going forward. Considering that they fell just short of the playoffs last year, getting those “charity points” could mean a lot. Sadly enough, they could even make or break the Sutter brothers.

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