Sunrise Shootout Squad Poised to be a Formidable Force for the Cats
Starting with the 2005-06 season, the National Hockey League introduced a new way of deciding regular season games that were tied following 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of four-on-four overtime: the shootout.
In the NHL version of the shootout, which has long been used in international hockey, three different skaters for each team take alternating penalty shots against the opposing goaltender. If still tied after three shots per team, 'sudden-death' shots are taken with each team having an equal number of shots. In the NHL, both teams receive one point after regulation, with the winner of the shootout (or overtime) receiving a second point. In international hockey, which includes the World Junior Championships, World Championships and Winter Olympics, shootouts are also used to decide who wins and loses playoff and medal round games. This has resulted in memorable moments like Peter Forsberg’s gold medal winning shootout goal at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
Since the introduction of the shootout, NHL games have been getting decided by shootouts with increasing frequency. In the first full season following its introduction (2005-06), 145 games (11.79%) were decided by shootouts. This would prove to be a single-season low. In each of the last two full NHL seasons (excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign), over 14% of games were settled by shootouts, including a high of 181 games (14.72%) in 2011-12.
Percentage of NHL Games Decided by Shootouts (2005-Present)
|SEASON||GP||Shootouts||Shootout Game %|
For a revamped Florida Panthers roster that now features some of the league’s best shootout specialists, along with a stalwart starting goaltender in Roberto Luongo to stare down opposing shooters, the trend towards more games being decided by shootouts should be a positive development.
2013-14 Florida Panthers Shootout Numbers
This past season, the Panthers converted on 38% of their shootout chances, en route to picking up eight out of a possible 14 shootout-related points.
The Panthers’ success rate on shootout attempts was better than that of all but eight other teams, and well above the league average shooting percentage of 31.6% (the St. Louis Blues led the league at 48%).
Much of Florida’s 2013-14 shootout success can be attributed to the efforts of recently re-signed right winger Brad Boyes. Boyes is the NHL’s active leader in shootout goals with 37 and boasts a career 46.2% shooting percentage to go along with 12 shootout-winning goals. Boyes had his name called 10 times last season and converted 60% of his chances to lead the Cats with six shootout goals, one of which took a rather roundabout way to reach the back of the net.
After scoring on two of his four shootout attempts during his Calder Trophy-winning 2012-13 rookie season, Jonathan Huberdeau converted a third of his chances last season, scoring on four of his 12 attempts, two of which proved to be game deciders. As is the case with his teammates and fellow young forward stars Aleksander Barkov (nine attempts) and Nick Bjugstad (five attempts), the experience Huberdeau gained this past season should come in handy when he is penciled into the Cats’ shootout lineup next year.
Late-season pickup Brandon Pirri, whom the Panthers recently signed to a two-year contract, scored this dandy in a March shootout against the Ottawa Senators suggesting that he too can be a viable shootout option for Panthers coach Gerard Gallant.
2013-14 Florida Panthers Individual Player Shootout Stats
The Addition of Jussi Jokinen
The potency of the Panthers shootout group was given a major boost on July 1 with the acquisition of free agent forward Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen, like Boyes, ranks in the stratosphere of shootout specialists. To date, Jokinen has recorded 33 shootout goals in his career, converting on 43.4% of his opportunities, including 12 game-deciding goals.
Jokinen has been dangerous in shootouts since the beginning of his NHL career. As a rookie with the Dallas Stars in the 2005-06 season, he scored on his first nine shootout attempts, an NHL record. As his career numbers attest, the fast start was a sign of things to come from the Finn. He has shown time and again that he can beat goalies with slick stickhandling,Forsberg-like dekes or with a quick backhand glove-side.
Together with Boyes, Barkov, Bjugstad, Huberdeau, Pirri and others, Jokinen’s presence will ensure that Coach Gallant has plenty of choices and lots of depth when shootout time comes around.
Shootout Goaltending and Roberto Luongo
Since the introduction of shootouts, goalies have had the upper hand over shooters, with the majority of shots failing to find the net. League-wide, shootout goal percentages have tended to hover around 32-33%.
NHL Shootout Shooting Percentage (2005-Present)
While many observers initially thought the shootout would be a showcase for shooters rather than goalies, the numbers tell us we should have expected otherwise. Historic numbers for the on-ice event most akin to a shootout attempt– the penalty shot – have been goalie-friendly. In the last full season before shootouts were introduced (2003-04), shooters scored on 32% of their penalty shot attempts (18 goals on 57 attempts), just slightly above the rate of success shooters enjoyed last season.
With Roberto Luongo in net, the Panthers are in good hands when opposing skaters come over the boards during shootouts. Luongo boasts a career .672% shootout save percentage and a particularly impressive .742 save percentage in away game shootouts, to go along with his 34 shootout wins. Having faced 265 attempts, Luongo is well acquainted with many of the league’s most frequent shooters. Over the course of his career, Luongo has stifled shootout attempts in a variety of memorable ways, making use of his pad, glove and even the posts.
Putting it all together, all signs are pointing towards some great end of game excitement during Panthers games next season. In a league where every point matters, Panthers fans should rest comfortably knowing that, should their team end up in a late-night shootout with a second point on the line, the fun is just getting started.