Pens Points Wednesday: Do Shootouts Matter?

Justin K. Aller

Is it important for NHL teams to be good at shootouts, or should we just have fun? Watch the greatest shootout ever. Seth Jones makes case for Calder and Sochi. Did Steve Downie get a one-way ticket out of Colorado for hitting his own captain in practice?

From the Sharks blog Fear The Fin, an analysis of whether it is important for teams to be good at shootouts. Over the past 8 seasons, the Pens have the highest SO win % (0.643), the Flyers the lowest (0.358). The shooting % isn't as important as the goalie SV% in SOs, but most of it is due to PDO, they conclude. At any rate, I will happily enjoy the shootouts and take every extra point Flower can earn us.

That article only discusses the importance of NHL teams being good in shootouts. They are considerably more important in international competitions, as IIHF rules for tie games mandate a 10-minute sudden-death OT followed by a shootout - no exceptions. Gold medal game, so be it. As the Olympics are around the corner, here is for my money the greatest shootout ever. Canada vs. Czech Republic, Olympic semifinals in Nagano, February 20, 1998. Dominik Hasek in one crease, Patrick Roy in the other. Canadian shooters were Theo Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan. Of the five, not a single one went past the Dominator (!), paving the way to Olympic gold for the Czechs.

Just imagine, while we're on this topic, a Russia-Canada tie game in Sochi. Canadian shooters might be Crosby, Toews, Stamkos, Couture, Perry. Something along those lines. Russian shooters would be Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Malkin, Ovechkin and Semin. I would take that match-up against anyone other than Fleury very, very happily. So shootouts do matter in some instances.

Quite a few games last night went into OT and SO. Manny Malhotra announced his return to the NHL by scoring the OT winner against Philadelphia. Seguin and Peverley both scored in the shootout to lead the Stars past the Bruins. Seguin was booed literally every time he touched the puck, but should he have been? And over in San Jose, the Sharks were facing the Sabres and there were some legitimate fears that Joe Thornton might score lots of goals and show us how to really celebrate. Thankfully, the Sabres showed up and saved us all, winning the shootout. Whew.

From On The Forecheck, Seth Jones is building some Calder Trophy buzz. He may not win it, as it's always more difficult for defensemen to get noticed over high-flying forwards, but the education of Seth Jones has only begun and he is already playing > 25 minutes per game. Will David Poile, Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma take him to Sochi? There are only 8 spots available and after shoo-ins Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien and Ryan McDonagh, the other 4 spots will be up for grabs and American pool of good D-men is very deep. They could go for tested workhorses like Orpik and Martin, already playing in a pairing, but they just may take the rookie and let him shine. I'd love it if they did.

A couple of tidbits in this video segment from SportsNet: are there changes coming in Edmonton, and might they mean a Nail Yakupov trade (perhaps to NYR for Michael Del Zotto)? It's been a while since anyone mentioned Rick Nash. How long will the concussion keep him out? Pekka Rinne's hip infection turned out to be E. coli (bad news), meaning he might be out until Christmas. Next week at the GM's meetings several things will be discussed, including potentially new fighting rules and goalie fight rules (thanks Ray Emery). Marty Brodeur would be open to a trade to a contender. You don't say! Lastly, the panel debates the value of bringing teammates with established chemistry to the Olympics.

Normally I wouldn't give this too much credence, but I don't think Elliotte Friedman would come on a show just to throw out a baseless rumor. According to him, Steve Downie was jettisoned from Colorado because he drilled Gabe Landeskog in training camp and was unapologetic about it.

The Pens face the Rangers tonight. How far apart are Fleury and Lundqvist as quality goaltenders? Can the Penguins improve that paltry penalty kill on the road? Last time I was at MSG it was so much fun because we lost 6-1 and the Pens made Ryane Clowe look like an All Star. Let's put in a better effort tonight, guys. I'll be there. Let's go Pens.

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