Love it or hate it, one thing’s for certain — the shootout isn’t going anywhere.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made that abundantly clear in speaking with the Associated Press, citing league research and his own experiences.
“All the research that we do on a regular basis tells us overwhelmingly our fans like the shootout,” Bettman said during All-Star weekend in Ottawa. “We’re looking at numbers in the 70 and 80 percent approval range, which on any question is an extraordinarily high number.
“Anecdotally, I try to go to a game at least once in every building, and when you see an overtime game that goes to the shootout, the reaction in the building is sensational. Everybody’s on their feet.”
While the shootout isn’t an every-night occurrence, it does appear with some frequency. According to STATS LLC, 164 of the 735 games this season have been tied after three periods, meaning 22.3 percent of games have been of the three-point variety.
Of those 164 games, 95 have been decided by a shootout — a 58 percent clip, slightly higher than the post-lockout average of 56. Ergo, a significant amount of points are being decided by what some purists consider a gimmick.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price told the AP. “The shootout is very random, because it’s not really involving the whole team. I think that’s probably the most difficult thing, so if you have a core group of guys that aren’t doing well in the shootout, then there’s a lot of blame on certain people.
“But it is better than having nobody win the game. I think at the end of the day you’re trying to sell tickets and being able to give a result to somebody is probably pretty good.”
The shootout has yielded some interesting results this season. Colorado is the gold standard — the Avs are a perfect 7-0, scoring 12 goals while allowing just four — while New Jersey has benefited the most, winning eight times (while losing just twice.) Detroit, 5-0 in the shootout, joins Colorado as the only undefeated team this season.
On the other end of the spectrum? Montreal is 1-7, St. Louis is 1-6 and Carolina holds the distinction of being the lone NHL team without a shootout win this season.