Last season, the New Jersey Devils took advantage of a 12-4 shootout record to produce a 102-point season. They’re still in the mix in the East, but after Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, they’re now 0-3 in the skill competition in 2013.
Ilya Kovalchuk discussed the importance of getting those extra points to The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.
“Last year, we got (12) shootout wins, so it’s (12) extra points,” Kovalchuk said. “If we wouldn’t (get) that, I don’t think we would have made the playoffs.”
Technically speaking, Kovalchuk is correct; the Devils would have finished with 90 points; the eighth-place Ottawa Senators ended 2011-12 with 92.
It’s hard to imagine any team going 0-16 in shootouts during a full season, but either way, head coach Peter DeBoer still regrets seeing three bonus points slip away already.
“We’re leaving a lot of points on the table,” DeBoer said. “We were the benefactor of that last year and this year we’re on the other side of it.”
The Devils are now on a four-game losing streak, yet they’re still just one standings point behind the Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins as of this moment. Winning more shootouts might just close the gap (or keep them in the playoffs).
Shootouts aren’t everything, though, obviously. As the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington points out, the struggling Sabres hold the NHL’s best shootout record at 3-0.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: