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Caniac Classroom: Some of the Numbers Behind the Hurricanes’ Shootout Success

No you don’t have to pinch yourself, you are in fact not dreaming. The Carolina Hurricanes are actually good at shootouts now. This week I decided to take a look at some stats from the Hurricanes’ eight-straight shootout winning streak.

Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome to class everybody. Hope you all like numbers. I’m going to be restarting an old series here at Canes Country where we take a deep dive or analytical look into a certain aspect of the Carolina Hurricanes’ game.

Essentially, whatever I’m feeling like or getting really interested in that week.

Today’s lesson plan features a look at one of the hottest aspects of the Carolina Hurricanes’ game; the shootout.

No, seriously. They are good at it now.

I know not so long ago, the end of overtime signaled to Canes fans that the game was indeed already over and that they could go ahead and pack up their things along with only the singular point they would be getting from that 65 minute endeavor.

And the numbers backed that up.

Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Hurricanes were the second worst ever shootout team by win percentage (0.406) and featured the league’s 28th best overall shootout save percentage (0.638). Really promising stuff.

However, starting in the 2018-19 season, the Carolina Hurricanes turned their kryptonite into their specialty.

The Hurricanes have won each of their last eight shootout appearances, a streak spanning over three seasons, giving them the league’s highest shootout win percentage and second highest shootout save percentage since the start of the 2018-19 season.

If you believe in jinxes, I’m sorry in advance, but it’s really interesting to dive into just what has been going right for the Canes.

There are two parts to the shootout: the shooters and the goaltenders.

Let’s start by taking a look at the shooters.

Over that three-season span, the Canes have used 14 different shooters, with only six of them managing to score: Brock McGinn, Dougie Hamilton, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnkiov, Justin Williams and Vincent Trocheck.

You wouldn’t think that’d be enough to sustain an eight-straight shootout winning streak, but it is and we’ll get more into that a bit later.

Interestingly enough the most seasoned shootout veteran over that stretch is Trocheck who has 40 shootout attempts and has scored 15 times, although with the Hurricanes he is only one for two.

The team’s best shooter though is obvious. The rising superstar, Svechnikov, is four for six in shootout attempts which ties him for the league’s best shootout shooting percentage (66.7%) among active players with at least five attempts — the other being Jake Guentzel.

Svechnikov has such a high skill level, not only with his outstanding shot, but also his ability to read netminders and stick-handle in close, that it gives him such an edge in shootouts.

Past Mister Svechnikov, the Hurricanes have a pair of highly successful shooters in Hamilton and McGinn.

Hamilton and McGinn are both a career four for seven in shootouts — with Hamilton being four for six with Carolina, but each have seen their usage cross in opposite directions.

Hamilton has seen an uptick in chances since 2018-19, while McGinn has seen the opposite, with his last attempt coming in Carolina’s last losing shootout — a 6-5 loss to the Washington Capitals on Dec. 14, 2018.

A strange occurrence since it seemed that McGinn had an aptitude for the shootout even if he wasn’t scoring at a similar rate during actual game time, but maybe a potential extended rounds ace in the sleeve should the occasion arise.

However, Hamilton has been thriving in shootouts being the Hurricanes’ go-to lead off shooter.

What’s really odd though outside of a defensemen being one of your top guys, is the inability for Aho to find success in the shootout.

A career 3 for 14, Aho has scored more shorthanded breakaways than he has shootout goals. I don’t know what it is about that aspect of the game, but Aho just hasn’t found any luck with it.

He last scored a shootout goal in November of 2017 against Jusse Saros of the Nashville Predators and has since gone goalless in six appearances.

Maybe part of the reason is the fact that his go-to move, backhand through the five-hole, may have been figured out by a lot of goaltenders, so it could be up to Aho to add another move to the repertoire.

Past those guys, here are a few more observations on Hurricanes shooters.

  • Slavin is currently the roster’s second most experienced shootout guy with 16 attempts.
  • Despite playing in 110 games that went to a shootout, Jordan Staal has never had a shootout attempt.
  • And one last shooter stat I wanted to highlight was one for Williams during his return to Carolina last season. Williams took part in three shootouts last year and won them all as the deciding goal. His career as a whole was an unreal story, but to even have statistics like that to end it was astounding.

Shootout Shooter Stats

Player Career w/ Carolina This Year
Player Career w/ Carolina This Year
Vincent Trocheck 15/40 1/2 1/2
Jaccob Slavin 4/16 4/16 -/-
Sebastian Aho 3/14 3/14 -/-
Teuvo Teravainen 3/10 3/8 -/-
Nino Niederreiter 2/10 0/2 -/-
Brock McGinn 4/7 4/7 -/-
Dougie Hamilton 4/7 4/6 1/2
Andrei Svechnikov 4/6 4/6 1/2
Ryan Dzingel 0/3 0/1 -/-
Jake Gardiner 0/2 -/- -/-
Martin Necas 0/1 0/1 -/-
Jordan Staal -/- -/- -/-
Jordan Martinook -/- -/- -/-
Warren Foegele -/- -/- -/-
Jesper Fast -/- -/- -/-
Brett Pesce -/- -/- -/-
Brady Skjei -/- -/- -/-
Haydn Fleury -/- -/- -/-

Now let’s take a look at the goalies, who are perhaps the more underappreciated half, because really, they are why the Hurricanes are winning so many shootouts.

The first netminder I will talk about is the one that’s carried the majority of the winning streak.

James Reimer has been between the pipes in Carolina’s last five shootouts — the only five he’s played in a Hurricanes’ sweater — and has come away with the “dub” in all of them.

Over that stretch, Reimer has turned away 15 of the 19 shots he has faced — a 0.789 save percentage — including this one against one of the best hands in the game, Patrick Kane.

He has been playing well over his career numbers of around a 0.500 winning percentage (22 wins, 21 losses) and 0.702 save percentage which compliments well with the fact that he has had a career resurgence in Carolina.

But the real gem has been Petr Mrazek.

Mrazek has appeared in four shootouts for the Hurricanes, has won all four of them, and hasn’t allowed a single goal yet.

He is currently a perfect 12 for 12 and honestly it makes a lot more sense than you would think once you look more into it.

Mrazek has always been good in breakaway scenarios and the real area of his game where he traditionally struggled was his over-aggressiveness and cross-crease movements, both more exposed through passing.

With only a single skater to focus in on, Mrazek has been dynamite and his numbers haven’t just been stellar in Carolina.

Among all active goaltenders that have appeared in at least 10 shootouts, Mrazek ranks fifth overall in terms of save percentage (0.769).

The thing about perfection is that it never lasts long, but Mrazek’s numbers show that the hotness may be a thing that sticks around and not just a flash in the pan.

The goaltending scenario in Carolina is better than it’s ever been, and it’s a big reason why, even beyond shootouts, the team is finding greater success.

Shootout Goalie Stats

Players Career Wins Career Stats w/ Carolina w/ Carolina Stats This Year This Year Stats
Players Career Wins Career Stats w/ Carolina w/ Carolina Stats This Year This Year Stats
Petr Mrazek 22GP-16W-6L 70/91 (0.769) 4GP-4W-0L 12/12 (1.000) 0GP-0W-0L -/-
James Reimer 43GP-22W-21L 106/151 (0.702) 5GP-5W-0L 15/19 (0.789) 2GP-2W-0L 5/6 (0.833)

In fact, the Hurricanes may not have lost a single shootout in 2018-19 if Mrazek or Reimer or even McElhinney had played in the two losses that season. Each of those losses came while Scott Darling was in net for the Canes, perhaps a stark example of the flipped around success.

Somehow the Hurricanes have managed to flip their entire identity with shootouts around in three seasons and whether it’s because of personnel, players, both or some other cosmic interference, I say keep it going.