If the Carolina Hurricanes intend to make the playoffs this coming season, they most likely will need to improve upon last year's performance in the shootout.
While many consider the shootout to be a gimmick or nothing more than a skills competition, repeatedly failing to earn the extra point awarded to the winner of a shootout can come back to haunt a team at the end of the season, especially if they fail to make it into the playoffs by a point or two.
Shootouts could even be more important in this abbreviated season.
Last season, the Hurricanes had a dismal 1-6 record in shootouts which was ranked last in the league. They scored a league low 4 goals in those seven contests on 21 shot attempts for a 19% shooting percentage, also worst in the league.
For comparison sake, New Jersey, who finished with a 12-4 record in shootouts last season, shot 57% for first in the league. Buffalo, at 15th in the league was at 33%.
Speaking of save percentage, surprisingly that was another weakness for Carolina. The team finished in 29th place with a .550 shootout save percentage last year.
Cam Ward, considered one of the best goalies in the league, finished in 50th place compared with other goalies in the NHL last season with a shootout save percentage of .571.
Statistically speaking, shootouts do not seem to be a strong point for the former All Star goaltender. The following chart shows shootout save percentages among the top paid goalies in the league:
|1||Pekka Rinne||$ 7,000,000||0.759||0.700|
|2||Henrik Lundqvist||$ 6,875,000||0.763||0.720|
|3||Carey Price||$ 6,500,000||0.695||0.650|
|4||Cam Ward||$ 6,300,000||0.616||0.571|
|5||Ryan Miller||$ 6,250,000||0.698||0.676|
|6||Niklas Backstrom||$ 6,000,000||0.571||0.531|
|7||Miikka Kiprusoff||$ 5,833,333||0.607||0.625|
|8||Ilya Bryzgalov||$ 5,666,667||0.635||0.480|
|9||Roberto Luongo||$ 5,333,333||0.668||0.595|
|10||Tim Thomas||$ 5,000,000||0.761||0.769|
|11||Marc-Andre Fleury||$ 5,000,000||0.763||0.769|
Ward, who has the 4rth highest cap hit among all goalies for this season, (Cap Geek), ranks among the lower portion of his peers regarding his career shootout save percentage as well as his percentage from last season.
But his numbers were down last year from his career numbers, which should mean that improvement is coming from Wardo this coming season.
Over his career, Jussi Jokinen has been known as one of the NHL's best shootout snipers. Jokinen shot a team best 33% last year, (2-6.) Jeff Skinner also has skill in this area, but was at 16% last year, (1-6).
Newcomer Alexander Semin has a lot of experience in shootouts and went 50% last season, (3-6). His addition should help.
Look for the Hurricanes to improve on their shootouts, but will that be enough to put them into the playoff picture?