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Taking a Look at Shootout Stats

Here is a dandy breakaway goal from last night scored by Penguins’ agitator Jarkko Ruutu.

Who would have thought that Ruutu could pull such moves on a breakaway?

Since the skills required to score on a breakaway, are similar to the skills required to score on a shootout (being 1 on 1 with the goalie), watching this goal triggered memories of Ruutu scoring some nice goals in a shootout. I decided to take a look into Ruutu’s stats.

Before I begin, let me ask you a question. Your team has a crucial game on the line and needs someone to score in the shootout. You look down the bench and see the following players: Jarkko Ruutu, Evegni Malkin, Jaromir Jagr, Trevor Linden, Dany Heatley, Erik Christensen. Without thinking you may pick Malkin, Jagr and Heatley. But look more into the stats.

Jarkko Ruutu: 3 for 6 this season and 6 for 12 in his career (50%).

Compare him to some of the leagues top goal scorers:

Evegni Malkin: 0 for 5 this season; 3 for 17 in his career (17.6%).
Jaromir Jagr: 0 for 5 this season; 5 for 22 in his career (22.7%).
Dany Heatley: 0 for 4 this season; 3 for 16 in his career (18.8%).

Players who are not known to score goals:

Trevor Linden: 5 for 9 this season; 7 for 12 in his career (58.3%).
Erik Christensen 6 for 11 this season; 14 for 25 in his career (56%).

Erik Christensen should definitely be shooting, as he fits into the Jussi Jokinen (17 for 29 58.6% career) mold of a player who consistently performs above average in the shootout but less than average in game (purely based on points scored). (Coincidentally, both players were traded at the deadline, which says something about their value to teams)

Hypothetically if all these players were on the same team, and they were in a shootout to determine a playoff berth. Would you put the game on the shoulders of your star players (Malkin, Jagr, Heatley), or let scrappy players like Ruutu and Linden shoot?

I could see some coaches having a difficult time putting in Ruutu or Linden over a Heatley or Malkin. But the stats say otherwise.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Michael Remis.

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