The Bruins have no luck in the shootout.
It doesn’t take too many numbers to convince any observer of that. This year the Bruins haven’t won a single shootout, and they’ve struggled there for the past few years.
The numbers back that up, too.
Brad Marchand, a 100-point player in the NHL a year ago, has the lowest shootout percentage of any active player with at least 40 attempts at 21.4%. David Krejci is the ninth-lowest at 27.4%. Patrice Bergeron has the 12th-lowest at 28.1%.
All three are considered elite offensive players, working in the top-six forwards and power play units. But none have had any success in the shootout.
So, what gives?
“Goalies are tending to watch video now, and stuff like that,” said Marchand. “Shootouts are tough sometimes. Some guys are good at them and some guys aren’t. It changes every game.”
The only Bruins skater with any shootout success this season is Charlie Coyle, who has scored two out of three tries. He’s not a skill guy in the sense of a Marchand or Krejci, and while the shootout isn’t necessarily easier for non-traditional scorers, the amount of elite players who rank in the bottom tier of percentages is alarming.
Right ahead of Marchand are the likes of Marion Gaborik, Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan Kesler, John Tavares, Phil Kessel, Steven Stamkos, and other tremendous players. Some top players are relied on more frequently in these scenarios, but it still seems to be a blind spot for the best of the best to put the puck in during the end-of-game skill contest.
“It’s hard to explain because, you can practice, but everyone does it differently,” said Coyle, who has a career percentage of 50 in six attempts. “You have moves in your head, or some guys shoot first, or deke. It’s hard to really practice it because you’re going against your goalies. It’s hard, every goalie is different. Who watches film, it’s a weird thing.”
Coyle has the highest percentage on the Bruins of skaters who have at least five attempts, with defenseman Charlie McAvoy next at 2 for 5, and then it’s Bergeron at 25 for 89.
That’s a lot of goals with a low percentage among the elite, but the rest of the roster bodes even worse. David Pastrnak, the current league leader in goals, has just a 19.1% in 21 tries; the only lower percentage on the team — that isn’t zero — is Torey Krug at 18.2% in 11 attempts.
Jake DeBrusk has a scoring touch, but is operating at just 25% with two goals in eight tries.
“It’s one of those things that’s situational, but it’s tough because the pressure is on you,” he said. “You just try to go out there and score. Skill guys might think a little too much, but I feel like if you score one of them it kind of falls into place. It’s just a matter of doing it at the right time, and in what situation. If you need to score or you lose its a tough one as well.”
DeBrusk said sometimes a breakaway in a game situation might even be easier than a shootout, when the goalie is anticipating a shot; Coyle, who scored a shorthanded breakaway on Monday night against the Capitals, agreed.
“You have more pressure in a game with guys coming on you,” said Coyle. “In a shootout you kind of go in slow and change your angle, but a breakaway, there’s pressure on and you have to think quick, its spur of the moment.”
In a shootout, it’s oh what should I do, even the goalie does. A lot of thought goes into it. A breakaway can be better, you go out, do it, not much thinking, just do your move.”
The Bruins perhaps have too much talent to fail at something with as much skill as a shootout, but that might be where the problem lies, anyways; with how much thinking that goes into it and how prepared goalies are now, it’s not as simple as skill winning every time out.
The numbers speak for themselves.