Six years since it's been introduced to the NHL and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the shootout. On one hand, I agree with the traditionalists that hate having 65 minutes of hockey (regulation and overtime) decided by a series of breakaways. On the other hand, it can be pretty awesome to watch from an entertainment point of view, especially if you're lucky enough to catch somebody like Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk or Edmonton's Linus Omark (seriously, check him out).
Regardless, it's turned out to be a pretty important aspect of the post-lockout NHL and can have an impact on the standings. Having a go-to guy can be a nice advantage for a team, but the problem is trying to figure out who that go-to guy is. Supremely talented players like Evgeni Malkin (7-for-29 in his career) and Jaromir Jagr (5-for-22 before he went to the KHL) have been pretty awful, while a player like Jarret Stoll, one that's not really known for being an offensive powerhouse, has demonstrated periods of dominance.
During the 2010-11 season, Stoll, a member of the Los Angeles Kings, was called on by head coach Terry Murray 10 times and managed to convert on nine of them -- including his final seven attempts -- a success rate of 90 percent for the season. I went back to the 2005-06 season (the year the shootout was put in place) and put together a list of every player that attempted a mininum of eight shots in a single season (250) to see how that 90 percent mark stacked up. It turned out to be the best mark in the history of the shootout at the NHL level, and by a pretty decent margin.
Here are the ten best single season shootout performances...
|Best Single Season Shootout Performances|
If you go back and watch the shots Stoll scored you might be surprised to see that there's really nothing fancy going on. He typically skates down the middle of the ice and simply lets go a quick slapshot between the circles, beating goaltenders over the glove hand just under the crossbar. It's a strategy I've often wondered why more players don't attempt. How many times do you see a player attempt a slick move only to have the puck roll off his stick?
Still, Stoll's place at the top of the list is fascinating when you consider he's not really known for being a huge goal-scorer, and because prior to last season he had scored on just four of his 13 previous shootout attempts in his career.
Even more fascinating is the list of players that have had the worst single season shootout performances...
|Worst Single Season Shootout Performances|
First, that list has some pretty good players on it, and players that you would expect to be able to score at will in a shootout (Kovalchuk). But look at Wojtek Wolski, the only player to appear on both lists. He went from being the best shootout performer in 2008-09 (and the second best ever) to the worst shootout performer (and the second worst ever) in 2009-10. That is incredible.