Shootout-happy season benefits Coyotes most

aucoincloser.jpgEven though there’s still some hockey to be played, the 2009-10 season already broke the league’s record for most shootouts in a single campaign. NHL.com has some interesting (and, for the competitive balance of the game, disturbing) numbers about the charity point generators.

The 2009-10 season has seen a record 289 games that needed to go past regulation to determine a winner. That includes 113 games that have been decided in overtime, and a record 176 that have gone to a shootout. The previous highs were 282 overtime games, set last season, and 164 shootouts in 2006-07.

The article points out that goalies tend to have the advantage in the glorified skills competition, while there isn’t a clear advantage in who the home team is or which team elects to shoot first. The article also points out that this has been a year of epic shootouts (10 rounds or more) and that perhaps the Phoenix Coyotes can contribute some of their Cinderella success to the format.

A record seven shootouts have gone 10 rounds or more, including two (Detroit-Nashville, 11 rounds, March 27; Phoenix-Nashville, 10 rounds, Feb. 2) that decided games which were scoreless through 65 minutes.

Shootout brilliance can come from unexpected sources. Phoenix set an NHL record this season with 14 shootout wins; the Coyotes got a big boost from defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who had never taken a shootout attempt before this season but has earned the nickname “The Closer” by going 6-for-8 — with all six goals deciding the outcome.

More on shootouts – and what the league can do to make them less … convenient – later on today.

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    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    After three full days without NHL action, the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will get underway tonight. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    San Jose at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The television broadcast of Game 1 will be on NBC. To stream the contest using the Live Extra app, click here.

    We wrote a lot about this series over the weekend. If you haven’t taken a look yet, here are the relevant links:

    Penguins or Sharks? PHT makes its Stanley Cup Final picks

    Penguins, Sharks discuss bumpy road to Stanley Cup Final

    Yes, Thornton and Marleau have been dreaming of a run like this

    Sharks and DeBoer ready for Pittsburgh, ‘the fastest team in the league’

    Fleury: Now’s not the time to think about future in Pittsburgh

    Should Lightning trade Bishop and hand the torch to Vasilevskiy?

    Pittsburgh Med: Bonino ‘fine,’ Letang MIA and Daley not ruling out a return (Update)

    Matt Nieto should be available to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

    Subtle but effective offseason pushed Sharks to next level

    Report: Semin will stay in KHL for 2016-17

    OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 11:  Alexander Semin #13 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during the NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on October 11, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.

    Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.

    At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.

    After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.

    He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.

    PHT Morning Skate: Predicting the 2016 Stanley Cup Final

    San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski celebrates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild duyring the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 4-3. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)

    The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)

    For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)

    Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)

    Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)

    Vegas tabs Joe Pavelski as Conn Smythe frontrunner

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks awaits a face off against the St. Louis Blues in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are Vegas favorites to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, but the odds lean toward a San Jose Sharks player capturing the Conn Smythe.

    Bovada released a variety of odds on Sunday after others surfaced on Friday.

    Joe Pavelski is pegged as a +400 favorite as a winner, edging some other top candidates such as Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray.

    Here’s the full list:

    Pavelski +400
    Crosby +500
    Kessel +500
    Murray +500
    Logan Couture +500
    Martin Jones +600
    Brent Burns +700
    Joe Thornton +900
    Evgeni Malkin +900
    Kris Letang +1400

    Bovada also released prop bets, including how long the series might last. Check that out here.