John Garrett: Shootouts
Shootouts have become a fiercely contested topic both in the media and on the ice.
Teams have kept themselves in contention by gaining the extra point after 65 minutes. The Colorado Avalanche are 7-1 in the competition and are only three points out of eighth. New Jersey is a surprise sixth in the East largely due to their 9-2 record in the shootouts. The Canucks, with their shootout win in Denver, are 4-5.
Unfortunately the goaltenders take most of the heat. They are a big part but only half of the equation. You have to have shooters who feel confident going one-on-one and who feel a competitive desire to be the goal scorer. Most teams look on the shootout as a form of entertainment for the fans. The game is over and they are in all-star game practice mode.
I think it would be beneficial if you could create an internal competition. Make it mean something within the team.
The Canucks could divide themselves into shooting groups. Showdown drills could have some sort of incentive so the winners were rewarded. It could be no skating at the end of practice, anything just keep it competitive. Players love to have that winning feeling and to be part of the same group day after day. Coaches decide who is going to participate in the shootout and it is rarely if ever the same three guys. Put the players in groups and then if you win the shootout you take the next one with the same three guys.
Here are my first five groups. Group one would be easy. Henrik, Daniel and Alex Edler could represent Team Sweden. It would put a little more pressure on them to succeed and maintain their national pride. David Booth, Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler could represent the US. Alex Burrows, Max Lapierre and throw in Jannik Hansen, they could represent the French contingent (Hansen qualifies as being able to understand the other two). Cody Hodgson and Manny Malhotra are from Toronto and they could pick up Mason Raymond. I would only have one group from the defencemen as Edler is already participating. The three highest point producing D men would be the next team. Bieksa, Salo and Hamhuis.
It could work. It should work and it would work.