After Tuesday night's shootout loss to Buffalo, their playoff hopes are looking dim. During the broadcast Chico and Steve kindly reminded the audience how God awful the Devils were in the shootout. In fact, the Devils record in the shootout sat at 0-10 that night. Nine shootout rounds later, the Devils sat at 0-11, with Jacob Josefson scoring the lone goal. That is eleven points that the Devils lost in the skills competition. In fact, the Devils are the only team in the NHL that has not won a shootout. After the 11th shootout loss, I decided I wanted to know for myself if the shooters or goaltenders are to blame for this pathetic shootout record.
Let's start by saying the obvious, the Devils do not have the offensively skilled players they used to have in the shootout. The Devils have lost Kovalchuk and Parise, who single-handedly won plenty of shootout for the Devils. On top of that, the Devils have just plain stunk this year. Only three players have scored a shootout goal this season or the Devils. Those players are Josefson, Jagr, and Boucher. Check out the chart below to see just how bad the shooters have been this season:
The three players who have scored are highlighted. As you can see, the Devils have scored one goal in the shootout on home ice while netting two on opponents home ice. They've had roughly the same number of attempts at home and away. Patrik Elias led the team with eight attempts...and zero goals. Henrique, Clowe, and Zajac each had five attempts, with zero goals.
Perhaps the Devils just don't have the talent to win shootouts?
False. Patrik Elias has a career shootout shooting percentage of 33.8%. Clowe is even more impressive at 34.8%. You'd never guess it but Ruutu holds a 39.1% shooting percentage. Each of these players has had more than 20 attempts, which is nothing to sneeze at. Zidlicky, Jagr, and Zajac all hold a S% above 25%. I don't really have an explanation for why the Devils shooters, as a whole, have the worst team shooting percentage in the NHL.
The average team shooting percentage in the shootout this year is 31.1%. The average number of shootout goals scored in the NHL: 13. There is one other team that has only mustered three shootout goals this season: the Carolina Hurricanes. So, it stands to reason that the Devils shooters have been the reason the Devils have lost all of their shootouts this season. Let's look at Marty and Cory and see if they've been shooter tutors or brick walls in the shootout.
Marty played fairly well at home while Cory struggled to stop anything. The league average SV% this season is hovering at .679, so Marty was above average at home and poor on the road. Schneider performed below league average in all situations. Next, let's compare this years performance with each goalies career shootout statistics:
In respects to winning percentage, neither goalie came close to their average. When looking at their career save percentage, Brodeur was 12% worse than usual while Schneider was about 11% worse this season than his career totals suggest. So neither goalie was absolutely terrible this season. They were sub-par while the scoring was atrocious.
So know we know, the Devils goaltenders performed at a level that was sub-par, but should have earned them a few points if the shooting was average. However, the shooters have not managed to convert and thus have hurt the Devils playoff hopes significantly.