Last year, the Los Angeles Kings missed the playoffs in large part due to their record in overtime and the shootout.
Eighteen times did they find themselves tied after 60 minutes, and only three times did they come away with a victory. The Kings finished two points behind Calgary for third in the Pacific Division, meaning all they needed was 3-15 to be 6-12 and they’d have been playing the Canucks in the first round.
But that was then. As you can see below, it’s been quite the turnaround in 2015-16. No team in the entire NHL has won more games in overtime and the shootout combined than the Kings, and no team has lost fewer.
Overtime/shootout records combined (sorted by most wins)
We’d like to say there’s a good, solid reason for the Kings’ turnaround, but we’re not sure there is.
Take Anze Kopitar in the shootout. He went 1-for-9 last year. He’s 3-for-4 this year. Similarly, Marian Gaborik is 2-for-2 this year, after going 2-for-6 last year. Maybe they figured out some new moves. Maybe they changed sticks. Or maybe it’s just the randomness of the shootout.
Meanwhile, coach Darryl Sutter has been hesitant to take too much credit for his team’s 9-2 record in overtime.
“I thought we’ve had good luck three-on-three,” he said in February.
He’d joked in October, “Yeah, we’re geniuses at it because we’re 2-0, so I know everything about it. Got it figured out.”
This year, it’s the Minnesota Wild who are in danger of missing the playoffs the way the Kings did last year. The Wild are currently tied with Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the West, though they do have a game in hand.
Minnesota is 1-8 in overtime and 0-2 in the shootout. Carolina is the only other team that has yet to win a game in the shootout.
Click here to see each team’s record in overtime and the shootout (not combined).