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Devils’ shootout struggles raise question of fairness

Jan 13, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT

Cam Atkinson, Martin Brodeur AP

The New Jersey Devils can’t win a shootout. And it’s costing them in the standings.

Sunday in Toronto, the Devils fell to 0-7 in the “gimmick,” failing to earn a full two points in a game that left them feeling “a little bit robbed,” according to coach Pete DeBoer.

The game also left the Devils two points back of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, their 19 regulation/overtime wins tied with Nashville (0-5 in the shootout) for the most of any team not currently in a playoff position.

Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals have just 14 regulation/OT wins and, thanks to an 8-5 record in the shootout, sit second in the Metropolitan Division.

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the shootout,” DeBoer said after the Leafs game, per The Record. “It is what it is. We competed our (rear end) off tonight and played a great game. It was our third game in four nights, back to back. The shootout doesn’t take away from the effort that we gave tonight.”

No, but it does raise the question of fairness. With so many games being decided by a “gimmick,” are the right teams being rewarded in the standings?

Because if you had any doubt that shootout success doesn’t correlate with the quality of a team, the Buffalo Sabres are 6-2 in it.

Related: 3-on-3 overtime gaining support among GMs?

  1. bgrillz - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Maybe you should spend a little time with it in practice every day. It may be a gimmick to you, but you’re losing points and exposing yourself to teams playing keep away in OT so that you have to go to a shootout. Many teams practice it, and the ones who do, usually do well in it. The ones who don’t, whine and call it a gimmick.

    • Jason Brough - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Funny, Adam Oates doesn’t like it either.

      • 950003cups - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Like it or not. If memory serves me correct, it was shootout points that brought us in to the playoffs in 2012. While Oates was an assistant.

      • stepanup - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Credit to you for being objective, tri-cup, about it when you were given a soapbox to complain.

  2. withseidelinn - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    What an absolute joke. If your team consistently fails at the shootout every time it happens, it’s not a question of fairness, it simply means you need to acquire players who are more effective in that scenario. The shootout is part of the game as of right now, and if your team can’t adjust to it then I don’t see why there’s a need to blame others. No point in hoping for it to go away.

    • 12is3times4 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Teams should be built to play regular 5-on-5 hockey first and foremost, not for the 1-on-1 shootout scenario which doesn’t even happen in the majority of games.

      The shootout isn’t much more than luck-of-the-draw, and is meant to be that way to discourage teams for just playing for a tie in regulation. The “loser point” is the real problem with the shootout as it stands now. Change it to a “winner point” (i.e. just 1 point for an OT/shootout win, and none for a loss of any kind) and the incentive to win in regulation becomes even stronger.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        everything you said is true. however, everything withseidelinn said is true also. most real hockey fans agree that the teams SHOULD be built based on 5on5 hockey, but at the moment, that’s not what the league is requiring. the Devils and certain other teams (despite what you think about the level of their 5on5 team) apparently didn’t think enough about the shootout, and it’s clearly costing them. it’s not like the shootout is new this year. they SHOULD have focused on getting somebody that could score in them, they SHOULDN’T have been forced to think about that… but they were. in Deboer’s words, it is what it is, and what it is is a league of shootouts.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        reading below, I’m not the first to say any of this on this thread. sorry for the redundancy.

      • withseidelinn - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        I agree with you a lot on the topic of the loser point. Pretty much eliminates a lot of the competition once it gets to OT unless the team is in a dire need of 2 points. If they structured the points differently it would be a much better system.

      • cofran2004 - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Make every game worth three points with a 5 minute 4-on-4, and a 5 minute 3-on-3. Obviously 3 points for winning in regulation. If you win it in the 4-on-4, you get all 3 points. If you win it in the 3-on-3, you get two, and the loser gets 1. In the event of a sister-kisser, both teams only get a point. That emphasizes winning it in the first overtime, and failing that, salvaging the point in the second. Also, it’s not overly long.

        I never had a huge problem with ties. Sure it wasn’t satisfying… but sometimes, on some nights, teams are just evenly matched.

    • bencia823 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      It really is this simple. There are plenty of serviceable players who play a strong 5 on 5 game and are killers in the shootout. Guys like Jussi Jokinen, Mats Zuccarello, Brad Boyes, Craig Smith, and Artem Anisimov offer a lot to your team on during the first 65 minutes and can help you pick up pivotal points in the shootout. The devils have the cap space to acquire those kind of guys (they passed on Boyes this offseason), and their inability to do so falls on their shoulders.

    • penguins87and71 - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      They don’t need good players to win in the shootout here is a novel idea why don’t the Devils practice the shootout in practice? The teams that are successful in the shootout usually practice it a lot. In the case of the Penguins they haven’t lost a shootout since what 2011 or 2012? The reason why because they practice the shootout in almost every practice. The shootout is apart of the game right now and it baffles me why some coaches in the NHL don’t practice the shootout more.

  3. ndrick731 - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Unless they change the way they award points the shootout is completely unfair way to decide a game. They need to make it three points for a win in regulation or overtime two points for a shootout win one point for a shootout loss and zero points for a regulation loss. To reward a team that wins in a shootout with the same amount of points that a team that won a game 7-0 is ridiculous. Also the overtime needs to be 10 minutes. But Gary Bettman will never consider something like that because he’s a gimmicky kind a guy.

  4. runhigh24 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    DeBoer doesn’t have to like the shootout but its incumbent on him as coach to earn as many points as possible and he reaps what he sows if he fails to allot practice time to address it. Maybe someone should tell him the NHL doesn’t give out points for good efforts?

    • cofran2004 - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      The NHL DOES give away points for giving good efforts. What do you think the point for an OTL/SOL is? Correct me if I’m wrong, but no other major league in the US/Canada gives you anything for reaching OT, right?

      • chicagobtech - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        An 8-8 record is worse than an 8-7-1 record in the NFL, even though both teams have eight wins.

      • cofran2004 - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        But it’s not points. That’s just logic.

      • chicagobtech - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        Disregard, I misread your post.

      • cofran2004 - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        It’s okay. No harm done. I re-read my post. I didn’t mean to come off as a D-bag. It comes naturally after dealing with some of the other folk on this board.

  5. bivdog200 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:03 PM


    Devils had 12 SOW (most in the NHL) and the 3rd lowest ROW (36) in the conference on their way to the finals.

    • thesportsjudge - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Well done! Now THIS is how to respond.

      • Jason Brough - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Why? What does it say?

      • thesportsjudge - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        It just states a fact. No immature bullcrap intertwined.

        PS The article is just fine.

      • thesportsjudge - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Also, not really sure why the author is getting thumbs-downed. All he did was ask……

    • roadtrip3500 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Also had Kovy to score the shootout game-winners that season… when you don’t have that sniper, you don’t win shootouts.

      • strictlythedanks - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        I believe Parise was their best. He is is a better state now.

      • nj666 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        yeah because minnesota has really been a scoring juggernaut…

      • strictlythedanks - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        no but he is in a better state I said.

        And they are capable of winning shootouts, essay.

  6. peterjohnjoseph - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Look, I hate the shootout as much as the next, but lets all take a step back and realize, this has been a part of the game for 9 years and It doesn’t look like its going anywhere just yet. So, with that, knowing in 9 years that a whole point could be decided by it, wouldn’t you put SOME thought into it?

    I mean, yes its a gimmick, but its a gimmick that gets you the same amount of points as playing the other three periods, and obviously for a team like the Devils is costing them greatly. To say you won’t even spend time on it is ignoring a huge issue that while unfair, is something thats not going away for now, and hasn’t for the last nine years of its existence. Practice. Sign a fourth liner who specializes in shootouts… something.. anything. Its a whole point. Obviously it means something for as long as its horridness exists.

    • Jason Brough - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      To be fair, I think he meant he wasn’t going to spend time discussing it.

  7. narfmoo12 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    The Devils are 28th in goals per game. Is it really a surprise that they can’t score in a shootout? Maybe if they stopped sitting back on defense all game hoping for 1 points, they might play well enough to get 2 points in 60 or 65 minutes.

    • nj666 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      if you watched any devils games you’d know they aren’t “sitting back on defense” take your late 90’s clichés elsewhere.

      • narfmoo12 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        I think they sit back on defense. If you’re correct that they aren’t doing that, then they just plain blow on offense. Either way they aren’t getting, and don’t deserve two points.

      • 950003cups - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        You’re right. We do just plain SUCK on offense. They attack at all times in all 3 zones. Problem is they sometimes forget to actually shoot the puck. Nobody wants to do it anymore. DeBoer isn’t a good coach by any aspect. Going to the finals with Parise, Kovalchuk, Brodeur, Henrique (having a Calder year) Clarkson having a career year, isn’t much to brag about. In fact, they almost lost in the first round to the Panthers. It took a 7th game that went to 2OT. By the time we met the FLyers, they were beat up and riding on too much a high from eliminating the Pens, and the Rangers had gone through 2 7 game series. As soon as we met the Kings we got crushed, WITH Brodeur playing lights out the first 2 games.

      • killerpgh - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        The Devils only had one series go 7 games and they didn’t even play the Pens that year in the playoffs.

  8. youcallthathockeyblog - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Lets be serious here… Their first shooter I believe was 41 year old Jaromir Jagr who has historically been bad at shootouts. Shooter #2 is Ryan Clowe… really? Shooter #3 I’ve never even seen play until tonight Reid Boucher who made his league debut last month… and didn’t even hit the net.

    Leafs shooters were JVR, Lupul and Bozak. Nuff said

    A box of tissues for DeBoer and on we go.

    • youcallthathockeyblog - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Not to mention Ryan Miller is lights out right now so it’s really no surprise that Buffalo has a better record when Schneider can barely beat an over the hill Brodeur for starts

  9. DED - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I find it strange that a team with one of the best goalies of all time and a solid veteran (potential future HOF?) are struggling in the SO. This is a team with Jagr, one of highest goal scorers of all time, in its arsenal. Age, schmage.

    I think the 3 point system idea (3 for RW, 2 for OT+SO win, 1 for OT+SO loss) is worth trying. Isn’t that what the AHL is doing?

    What are the alternatives?

    Go back to ties?

    Play a marathon OT game like the playoffs until someone wins (better not have back-to-back games)?

    Play 4×4 like now for 10 mins then go to 3×3 for another 10? But keep the penalties so that 2-man advantages are still possible. That would make it interesting.

  10. pastabelly - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Another five minutes of 4-4 would be more exciting. Hard to believe anyone would be too upset going home seeing a tie after those eight minutes.

  11. 2qswing - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Devils, with all due respect, you lead the league with 10 overtime or shootout losses. That’s 10 points you have for LOSING. It is the same system for all teams. In my view you have been the beneficiary of numerous 3-point games on the losing side. Whos to say under a different system you would even have those 10 points right now. I have seen the Devils play many times this year. They don’t sit back, they attack. But If you stink at shoot outs, practice them, pick better participants. Like any other facet of the game, work on it and get better.

  12. columbiannecktie - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    I have never liked the shootout. It turns the game of hockey, a team sport, into a skills competition of a handful of players.

    That being said, the New Jersey Devils have no right to complain about this, since 90% of the games they play go to extra time already, awarding them a guaranteed point.

  13. MannySilvers - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    In case anyone is curious, I was bored this morning and drew up the current eastern standings if the 3 point system was in effect, so 3 points for regulation or OT win, 0 points for regulation or OT loss, 2 points for SO win, 1 point for SO loss:

    BOS – 88 – 45gp – 28-14-1-2
    TBL – 78 – 45gp – 22-16-5-2
    MON – 78 – 46gp – 23-17-3-3

    PIT – 95 – 47gp – 29-14-4-0
    NYR – 71 – 47gp – 21-21-3-2
    PHI – 69 – 46gp – 20-20-3-3

    DET – 66 – 46gp – 19-19-1-7
    OTT – 65 – 46gp – 18-21-2-5

    NJD – 64 – 47gp – 19-21-0-7
    WSH – 63 – 45gp – 14-18-8-5
    TOR – 62 – 47gp – 14-21-8-4
    CBJ – 61 – 45gp – 18-23-3-1
    CAR – 59 – 45gp – 18-23-1-3
    NYI – 53 – 47gp – 14-26-4-3
    FLA – 50 – 45gp – 11-23-6-5
    BUF – 35 – 44gp – 7-29-6-2

    • stepanup - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Thanks, Washington down where they belong. Out.

      Oh and are there any openings wherever you might be doing this?

      • MannySilvers - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        I don’t work for any sort of stats company or anything I just did this on my own this morning.

  14. joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    We all need to consider the history of the game before making changes that will alter how game points are awarded. The NHL was founded after the National Hockey Association was suspended in 1916. In 1911 the NHA changed the timing of the game. Before 1910, teams played in two 30-minutes halves; the governors introduced the idea of three 20-minute periods. Since 1910 teams have been awarded 2 points after 60 minutes of play and 1 point for a tie. The NHL introduced a 5 minute overtime period on June 23, 1983. If the five-minute overtime period ended with no scoring, the game ended as a tie. In 1998, the NHL began awarding teams a single point for losing in overtime, hoping to reduce the number of tie games. Fans didn’t like the idea of not having a winner because they want the bragging rights that come with winning. After the 2004–05 lockout the NHL eliminated the tie altogether, introducing the shootout to ensure that each game has a winner.

    I don’t think the NHL will ever deprive a team from a point who has fought for 60+ minutes if a winner has not yet been determined. Unfortunately, the only sure fire approach to break a tie in a reasonable amount of time without impeding on the team’s travel schedule is the shootout. The 4 on 4 or 3 on 3 OT periods are a not a sure fire approach to end a tie in a reasonable amount of time.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      I’ve wondered about having GROUPS of players in the shootout as well. instead of breakaways, what about doing a 2on1 plus goalie? you’re watching something closer to the product we watch for 60mins a night, doesn’t really put all this weight on the goalies, introduces the defensive aspect of the game, yet don’t really have to change the point system (not that I’m not in favor of changing it).

      • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Keep in mind that they have time limitations. How long can you go without affecting team travel? I believe the SO will remain, or we accept that their will not be a winner after 60+ minutes. Even if we go 3 on 3 for 10 minutes, or like you suggested groups of players it doesn’t guarantee breaking a tie like the SO does. Frankly, I don’t know the answer. I like to listen to the coaches, and the ones that complain the most are the wins who are at a disadvantage… except for Torts. Seem like he’s always complaining about something. :-)

        idk, I was at a game this weekend and the game went to OT, and I’ve been to games where the SO was needed to determine a winner. The fans love it when their team scores be it in OT of SO, and so do the players. Players and fans are standing up during the SO. Yes! It’s a gimmick! But! We get to see some pretty nifty goals. Maybe they should at level out the playing field a little to give the goalies a chance. i.e. eliminate the spin-o-rama. Add more structure to the SO. ex: players can’t stray beyond 2 feet of either side of the net after crossing the blue line. once you get t a certain distance from the net a player must deck.. I’m just throwing out ideas…. I just don’t know what the solution should be. Just leave it….. There you go!

    • ibieiniid - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      I meant more like a shootout-format, but with 2 on 1s instead of breakaways. that way, we’re actually watching something that resembles hockey. in my opinion, working passing and defense into the shootout makes it more watchable.

      • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Yes! Yes! I got that. The teams already spend time practicing odd man rushed. Right! And it’s all done in the context of the game. i.e. 5 – 5, 4 – 4 etc…. What happens now when you do this in the context of a tie breaker? On the ice you only have 3 players going 2 on 1. I bet the boys are going to get creative and try more funkie plays than they would during a regular game. I believe it still going to become a gimmick of some sort.

  15. flash8910 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    This words shootout and fairness should never be used in the same sentence.

    Nevertheless, it is what it is. The Devils know the rules just as every NHL club know the rules.

  16. hockeyflow33 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Seems like a great coach prepares and practices all aspects of the game regardless of how infrequent they occur. If they were terrible on the pk would everyone be okay with him saying he doesn’t like penalties so why bother with it?

    • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      I don’t believe one coach in the NHL will include SOs in his list of things to practice. I could be wrong, but this aspect of the game is left up to the boys to practice the shootout without the involvement of the head coach. I suspect the same thing is true in basketball. There is no drill per say for players to practice the free throw. The players are usually given time to practice on whatever skills they want before the head coach jumps on the ice, and after he leaves. Some players will practice taking faceoffs. Some will do stick handling drills, some will practice their one timers, some like the twins in Van will practice passing the puck to each other via caroms. Once in a while the boys will have a SO competition. Some will practice their SO skills etc…

      • hockeyflow33 - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Not really, they use advanced statistics and scouting reports to determine goalie/shooter tendencies in shootout situations. The fact that the Devils coaching staff thinks it’s not important is indicative of the fact that they could be second in their division instead of fifth.

    • joey4id - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Of course they use advanced scouting for tendencies. That’s part of the day to day of a hockey player. Just like teams do advance scouting on teams to assess their system and come up with game strategies to exploit their weaknesses.

  17. skr213 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Why’s everybody always hating on the shootout? I like it the way it is, although would be open to a 3-2-1 point system. If your team doesn’t have guys who can put the puck in the net, don’t blame the shootout.

  18. logicalcomment - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Luck ?????
    i guess all those sick datsyuk goals were luck?
    every player should have 2, 3 goto moves

  19. bleedrangerblue - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Waaa waaaa. Keep crying you lousy devil. Here’s a thought: practice shoot outs.

  20. moondog7 - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Shootouts are fun especially when at a live game, but they are not really fair on the standings to determine who is a better hockey team. The point system should reflect it better. 3-2-1 point system is the best way to go. 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime/shootout win and one point for an overtime/shootout loss. There is no way a shootout win should have the same value in the standings as a regulation win 5 on 5 win.

    All games should have an equal amount of points to win. As it stands right now a games final outcome can be worth 2 points or 3 points. They need to get it fixed.

  21. woodenthomas - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    The author is using the word ‘gimmick” incorrectly. I looked it up. A Team mascot is a gimmick. cheerleaders are a gimmick , throwing octopus was used as a gimmick .

    A shootout is a vital part of the game. It is a tie breaker. It is an exciting crescendo and requires a high level of skill. It is not a gimmick, and neither is the penalty shot .

    Is the author too young to remember when Hockey games used to end in ties?, which was always a mediocre feeling.

    Get well Jersey’s Team!

  22. millertime1101 - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Here is my rant I have been commenting on this since this subject since parise left because as a devils fan it is easy to final figure out its not fair to have shootouts they need more overtimes. Reasoning as followed . I’m a Devils fan I loved shootouts when it was Kovi, Parise, Elias Clarkson. How do you think they made it to Finals The shootout but mostly HENRIQUE. Now there not going to make playoffs because of it. Most likely still some hope if Elias come back hot and travis zajac can rise out of ashes… PLEASE trade a 4th rd draft pick anything please get shootout specialist before its to late. I would love if NHL Could see shootouts is a great idea if the teams would hire some shootout specialist teams that win shootouts get 2 points .

    Shootouts are good if you have the right players byt some teams don’t I say fix it so teams need to be aware instead of getting a fighter in your lineup get a shootout specialist it pays off more in the end 2 points.

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