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Wings would rather fight than shoot it out

November 11, 2014, 4:51 PM ET [27 Comments]
Bob Duff
Detroit Red Wings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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When it comes to deciding the outcome of games, the Detroit Red Wings would rather fight than shoot it out. Looking at their numbers during the shootout, who can blame them?

“I think a lot of guys are getting sick of it,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said.

In their latest game, Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Wings failed on all three shootout attempts as they fell to 0-3 in the shootout this season. They have one goal (Gustav Nyquist) in eight shots and have allowed five goals on seven shots (all vs. Howard). Sunday's three shooters are a combined 5 for 21 during their NHL careers (Tomas Tatar 3-for-10, Darren Helm 1-for-3, Nyquist 1-for-8).

No wonder they’ve had enough of it.

Surprisingly, despite being a team traditionally known for their high-end skill, Detroit has almost always hit the skids when it came time for free shots to decide games. Since the shootout was implemented by the NHL in 2005-06, the Wings are 43-53. They've scored 104 goals on 338 shots (30.8 percent) and allowed 107 goals on 328 shots (.674 save percentage).

Other than the 2011-12 season, Detroit’s never been better than a middling squad in shootouts.

Season W-L GF-GA
2014-15 0-3 1-5
2013-14 5-9 11-14
2012-13 2-5 5-8
2011-12 9-3 15-8
2010-11 4-4 6-4
2009-10 6-9 19-21
2008-09 6-4 13-10
2007-08 5-5 12-11
2006-07 2-8 10-17
2005-06 4-3 12-9

With no games on the schedule until Friday’s home date with Chicago, Monday, in their first practice following the loss to Tampa Bay, the Wings worked on their shootout skills, an element of the game Detroit seldom takes time to iron out and Nyquist felt that it was a good idea.

“Just for yourself, just getting comfortable with a couple moves you might want to use, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Nyquist said. “If you score a couple maybe you get some confidence for games, too.”

Detroit forward Stephen Weiss believes a significant part of shootout failure stems from a player’s thought process. Allowed time to consider their options, most players will outthink themselves.

“In games it’s a lot easier,” Weiss explained. “All of a sudden you’re on a breakaway. You don’t have time to think about what to do.

“On a shootout you’ve got time. You might have a couple guys go before you and start second-guessing your move. You just have to go in and shoot the puck. Sometimes it’s easier in the game when someone is chasing you and you don’t have time to think, you just kind of go. Maybe we have to take that mentality, there’s a skater a couple feet behind you ready to take the puck so you have less time to think about it, just go in and make a move.”

The move the Wings would most like to see would be for the NHL to either drop the shootout, or at the very least, follow the format suggested by Detroit general manager Ken Holland of following the five-minute four-on-four overtime session with a five-minute period of three-on-three before going to the shootout.

“It was fun at the beginning, but I think how we’re deciding games it’s a tough way,” Howard said. “Sometimes it’s not indicative of how you played. You get in the shootout and the pucks go in and all of a sudden you didn’t have a good game.

“I don’t know why in the last year or year and a half I’ve struggled in them, but I’ve worked on them. I’ve gone over film with Jimmy B (goalie consultant Jim Bedard) to get better. It’s the only thing I can control.”

Weiss is another who’d cast his ballot in favor of three-on-three hockey.

“If they want to get rid of the shootouts and go right to five minutes of three-on-three, for sure I’m in,” Weiss said. “We had lots of chances for someone to score the other night four-on-four, never mind three-on-three. I think you would see a lot of games ending in three-on-three. I think the players would love it. The fans would love it and you’d get rid of a lot of shootouts.

“You’re settling it in a game atmosphere and not a skill competition. I would like to see it. I think that would be pretty cool.”

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