The Devils lost in a shootout against the Sabres 3-2 last night. That put their record in the shootout to an abysmal 0-11 on the season. The New Jersey Devils are the only team in the NHL this season to have yet to win a shootout game. In fact, the Devils only have three shootout goals for the entire season. One. At minimum there are two shots in the shootout, assuming the other team scores on one of their first two shots, and the Devils actual shootout success rate is three in 42. That is unacceptable.
I understand that they lost Kovalchuk and Parise recently, but there are plenty of players on the Devils that have the ability to score. Michael Ryder has been a big off-season signing for the Devils that has helped them along in the goal department. Jarmoir Jagr is a veteran in the league and he has pure scoring ability. But neither those two nor anyone else on the Devils seems to figure out how to score a goal in the shootout in order to earn that extra point for the standings.
And it certainly isn’t the goaltending that is the problem. Martin Brodeur is one of the best goalies of all time, if not the best, Corey Schneider is one of the top goalies in the NHL currently, but even the best goalies in the world get beat on the shootout once in a while. That being said, though, it seems as if the goalies that face the Devils in the shootout never get fooled. Either they can see what is coming or the Devils truly are snake bit when it comes to the shootout this season.
While it may be true that the shootout doesn’t matter come playoff time because all games go to five on five overtime periods until someone scores a goal, it does matter in the regular season standings. If the Devils have just won half of their shootout games, they would be near the top of the wild card standings, possibly vying for a Metropolitan Division playoff spot. And, since they have won all of their games up to this point in regulation or overtime, their ROW is higher than the other teams around them, meaning they would end up having the tie breaker over other teams because they have won more of their games outside of the shootout.
Unfortunately this is not the case for New Jersey. They do not have those four or five extra points that they need in order to be near the top of the wild card standings in the Eastern Conference, and as a result will probably miss the playoffs this season. Bad start and all, the Devils could’ve made the playoffs this season if they had just been better in the shootout. Despite how silly many think it is, including myself, the shootout is important for a bubble playoff team that needs all the points it can get in order to make the playoffs. The Devils are learning this the hard way.
Anthony Pucik is Assistant Sports Editor at The Fordham Ram.