It seems to me that this has been the Half-Season of the Hockey Shootout, and I, for one, have had it just about up to here with that.
Now, I don’t claim to be a statistician or an analyst or even someone who usually cares about the numbers outside of PIM and goals/assists, but take a look at just the stats for the Penguins. As of their game against Boston, 12/20/07, they had been in SEVEN shootouts out of 34 games. That’s close to 1/4 of their games that have ended in a glorified rookie training game.
The way I see it, going to shootout is almost a punishment for being too evenly matched with your opponent. Seriously, why is that a punishment? Isn’t the NHL looking for a series of non-lopsided really good hard hockey games with all of their teams working as hard as they can? Sure they are, because that’s what fans want to see. So why then, do they penalize them by forcing them into the shootout at the end?
As a fan, I detest the shootout with a burning passion usually reserved only for people who talk at the movies and take up more than one parking space with their giant gas-guzzling cars. If I wanted to see guys shoot one after another, I’d go watch a practice. The entire idea of a shootout really defeats the concept of enjoying hockey as a team sport. Instead of emphasizing the skill of the team as a whole, it breaks it down to being “player X” won the game. I don’t care how big a fan you are of Player X, there was an entire team behind him, and there’s no reason he should be the do-or-die of the entire game.
Also, the poor already-slightly-neurotic-goalies. The guys have already faced 60 minutes of action and stuff flying at them from all over, and now they’re expected to pull out all the stops against the top three shooters on each team without any backup? Even though it may not look it, I’m sure those goalies rely on every single one of their teammates to keep the puck away at any given moment, and I’m sure there’s still at least a minor feeling of dread when faced with a shootout. If Player X can win a a game for the entire team, Goalie Q will almost undoubtedly shoulder a good amount of the blame if his team loses.
Honestly, the shootout has got to go. I don’t care if we replace it with playoff-esque continual periods until someone scores, I don’t care if we just let them tie, hell, I’d be okay with some sort of skills competition that took into account the whole team, but if I came to see my entire team play, goddammit, I want my entire team to win together, not on the basis of how skilled one guy is at deking, faking, and finding the five hole. That’s not a hockey game, that’s training camp.
Cross posted to Hockey’s Ladies of Greatness as well.