Skip to main content

Saving Those Shootout Points

As we enter the third season of the "new NHL", the importance of the shootout is only finally being appreciated. Last year, a shootout victory by the New York Islanders on the last day of the season knocked the Toronto Maple Leafs out of the playoffs, whereas Tampa Bay's 10-2 record in the shootout made the difference in getting them into the postseason. The average team plays in ten or eleven such contests each year, and those points can make or break a coach's job; John Tortorella comes to mind, after he guaranteed a postseason berth for the Lightning when it was by no means a sure thing.
So what can two years of shootout data tell us about what to look for this season? Let's start off with something I noted last winter, but bears repeating up front for emphasis. It appears that there is a lefty/righty matchup advantage that coaches should keep in mind when selecting which players they want participating in the shootout. Much like baseball managers fill out their lineup or select pinch-hitters based on whether the pitcher is left- or right-handed, we have a situation in the NHL where matching the shooter's handedness with the goalie's catching glove hand can improve the shooter's chances. Here's a look at accumulated shooting percentages from the 2005-6 and 2006-7 regular season shootout totals, broken down by the shooter vs. goalie handedness:
Goalie L Goalie R
Shooter L 36.0% 24.8%
Shooter R 29.7% 36.4%
Difference 6.3% 11.6%
For left-handed catching goalies (which are by far the majority), the difference isn't as significant as it is with the righties. The most prominent right-handed catching goalies are Rick DiPietro of the Islanders and Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers. Coincidentally, I've got both on my fantasy hockey team.
So who are the top performing goaltenders over the past two years? Taking a minimum of twenty shots faced yields the following...
Goaltender Goals Shots Save Pct.
Johan Holmqvist, TAM 4 33 0.879
Marc Denis, TAM 6 38 0.842
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 18 83 0.783
Tim Thomas, BOS 17 77 0.779
Ryan Miller, BUF 14 63 0.778
Marty Turco, DAL 17 71 0.761
Chris Mason, NSH 6 25 0.760
Pascal LeClaire, CBJ 8 33 0.758
Rick DiPietro, NYI 21 85 0.753
Curtis Joseph, PHX 8 32 0.750
And on the bottom end...
Goaltender Goals Shots Save Pct.
Evgeni Nabokov, SJS 12 23 0.478
Peter Budaj, COL 20 41 0.512
Sean Burke, LAK 16 33 0.515
Curtis Sanford, VAN 15 31 0.516
Cristobal Huet, MTL 11 23 0.522
Niklas Backstrom, MIN 15 32 0.531
Alex Auld, PHX 13 30 0.567
Mikka Kiprusoff, CGY 19 45 0.578
Ray Emery, OTT 10 24 0.583
Ed Belfour, FLA 17 41 0.585
Oh, and Toronto fans, you might be interested to know that Andrew Raycroft was just barely off this bottom ten list at 0.588, so improving on last year's 4-7 shootout record might be a challenge. And your new guy, Toskala? I'm afraid he's allowed eight goals on fifteen shootout attempts (0.467), so there's not much hope there either. Best of luck with your guarantee, Mr. Maurice...
I'll check back in a couple days with a look at the scorer's end of the shootout scenario. Until then, let's get ready for the regular season opener on Saturday in Jolly Old England, shall we?

Popular posts from this blog

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…

Get Your NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 Right Here!

Click here for the 2009-10 NHL Super Schedule, at my new site,!

The NHL announced the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule today, so of course, it's time right here to publish my very own NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 as well.

For those unfamiliar with what I did last year, the NHL Super Schedule is a spreadsheet that I put together and make publicly available via Google Documents*. It includes an entry for each game in each team's 82-game regular season schedule, with additional information such as how far that team has had to travel since its last game, how many days have passed since that previous game, and various statistics relative to the opponent that evening, such as 2007-8 Winning Percentage, Goals Per Game, Goals Against Per Game, etc. For example, you can total the distance that each team will travel during the upcoming season, or find who plays the most back-to-back games. Check out which team faces the toughest opposing offenses, or which power plays…