The fact that the NHL doesn’t consider shootout wins when breaking ties in the standings is hilarious to me. 46 ties have been settled already this NHL season by way of the shootout, meaning 46 points in the standings have been awarded through it, but when it comes settling ties in the standings, it’s no good. If the NHL really wanted to be consistent, they’d settle ties in the standings with an emergency shootout. Or, if it’s too difficult to get the two gridlocked teams together, a coin toss.
Yes, the shootout is silly and random. As multiple people have pointed out, it’s a total crapshoot. But when the Canucks are bad at it, as they are so far this season, it invariably leads to all sorts of equally silly, random suggestions on how to improve their fortune. Try this guy. Try that guy. Go in fast. Go in slow. Deke. Shoot. Swap goalies.
Or, in my new favourite innovation, courtesy Jonathan McDonald of The Province, pull goalies. Not during the shotoout, of course. But in advance of it. Let’s all pause to examine this head-scratcher:
The Canucks are now 2-5 in the shootout this season with, at this pace, another five to six shootout losses coming in the next seven weeks. Incredibly, they were 8-7 in the shootout last season. But let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that they’re not particularly good at this part of the game. And let’s just say, anecdotally at least, that you give them better odds of winning the overtime. You know, the Sedins and all that. So wouldn’t you do anything to win the overtime? Let’s just throw it out there. Just as the Canucks once revolutionized the power play with that fabulous drop pass that no longer exists, they could revolutionize overtime. When Scott Gomez got that goalie-interference penalty in overtime, the Canucks spent two minutes playing 4-on-3. What if they’d pulled Schneider? What if they’d had the balls to take that risk? It is a risk, of course. Few people know that, according to NHL rule 84.2, you can pull your goalie for an extra attacker in overtime, but if the other team scores you forfeit the point you automatically get, just for getting to overtime. It might be ballsy, even foolish, but I’d applaud that move, even just one time. That power play was intense; imagine if they’d had another guy out there. Don’t laugh at the idea; it might just work.
Or… we could laugh at the idea. Sure, it could pay off, since sometimes really stupid gambles work out, such as betting on Katniss to win The Hunger Games. But why would anyone take this particular risk?
Just to review: since a shootout loss is all but a foregone conclusion, according to McDonald, the Canucks should show some balls and pull the goalie for the extra attacker if you happen to get a powerplay in overtime. Nevermind that you lose the charity point if the other team scores on you, which is now much, much easier to do, because you might score on them.
Here’s rule 84.2, which I’m guessing the NHL didn’t think would ever come into play, but wrote into the rulebook just in case:
84.2 Overtime – Regular-season – Extra Attacker - A team shall be allowed to pull its goalkeeper in favor of an additional skater in the overtime period. However, should that team lose the game during the time in which the goalkeeper has been removed, it would forfeit the automatic point gained in the tie at the end of regulation play, except if the goalkeeper has been removed at the call of a delayed penalty against the other team.
In effect, rather than banking the point, a necessity, especially in the gridlocked Western Conference where only 4 points separate 3rd from 11th, then trying to win another point in what is essentially a 50/50 draw, give back the point you just won in the hopes that you double down.
Listen. The Canucks aren’t as bad in the shootout as we think. Yes, they’re an unfortunate 2-for-7 right now, their shooters are shooting 21.7 percent (or about 15% below the league average) and their goaltenders have a pretty crummy .565 save percentage (10% below league average). But, again, a great deal of the shootout is luck. Those are some bad luck stats.
But last season, the Canucks had good luck. They won 8 of 15 shootouts, making them one of the league’s top 10 teams in the skills competition. Only 7 teams had more wins, and they were one of only 11 teams with more wins than losses.
The year before featured just 10 teams with more wins than losses. This time, the Canucks were not one of them. In fact, only three teams have been above .500 in the shootout two years in a row: Pittsburgh, Colorado, and New Jersey. And before you think these teams are magical outliers, New Jersey is winless in three shootouts this year.
For the most part, the shootout is random. Some years you get good luck. Some years you don’t. It’s rare to get good luck two years in a row. The personnel on this team really hasn’t changed. The Canucks are no better or worse than they were at the shootout last season. They’re just not getting as fortunate.
And hell, even if they were as bad as some believe, pulling the goalie still wouldn’t be the sensible thing to do. One of my favourite lines from Cam Charron spells this out nicely: “Even if they’re a good offensive team, the weird thing about hockey is that in any given moment, with any given player on any given spot on the ice, there’s no spot where a player is expected to score more than 50% of the time.”
But if that’s a little too nebulous, consider that, over the last two years, in 27:07 of 5-on-3 time, the Canucks have scored 6 goals, or one every 4:31. In other words, in two or fewer minutes on a 5-on-3, their chances of scoring are below 50%. Plus the Vancouver net is empty, so there’s that to worry about.
In effect, rather than banking the first point and trying your luck with, say, a sub-50% shot at the second (because in this hypothetical, they’re worse than average, remember), pulling the goalie means your odds of getting the two points drop below 50% anyway, and your odds of getting no points skyrocket up from 0%.
Why would anyone ever do that?Tags: Shootout, shootouts, Shootouts gonna shootout