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Who Will Shoot for the Winnipeg Jets?

Even though the shootout is not the preferred method of hockey fans to settle a tie, it is a reality in today’s NHL. In this article I will examine last year’s shootout stats for the Atlanta Thrashers. The main focus is to determine who will be taking the shots for the Jets this season when they inevitably go into a shootout. Additionally, I have examined how the Thrashers performed last season relative to other teams to see how they stack up.

To refresh your memory, the Thrashers finished 12th in the East last season at 34-36-12 (5-7 in shootouts) for 80 points. They were 13 points out of a playoff spot (The Rangers had the 8th playoff spot with 93 points.)

When looking at shootout stats, one would expect that the top players on the team take most of the shots, do the Jets have any potential “shootout specialists” on their hands?.

Read more about last years’ Thrashers’ shootout numbers after the jump

Let’s take a look at last years’ shootout stats. (Blake Wheeler’s stats include only his games with Atlanta. He was ½ with Boston)

2010-2011 – Atlanta Thrashers Shootout Stats

B. Little3/1030%
B. Wheeler2/366.7%
A. Ladd2/540%
T. Stapleton1/1100%
N. Dawes1/250%
R. Schremp1/250%
A  Burmistrov1/333.3%
N. Antropov1/425%
D. Byfuglien0/10%
N Bergfors0/20%
R. Peverley0/40%
E. Kane0/40%

Bryan Little was the top shooter last year for the Thrash, shooting in 10 of the 12 shootouts. Newly acquired Blake Wheeler fared well in his 3 attempts with ATL, he was 3/5 for the season. With the talent he possesses, it is somewhat surprising to see Evander Kane at the bottom of the list. Because of the small sample size, I wouldn’t rely on only last years numbers to determine who is good at shootout. However, this does give us an idea as to who was taking the shots last year.

Of all the 30 NHL teams last season, Atlanta ranked 19th with a 28.6% shooting percentage (12/42), nothing to write home about. At the top of the NHL in shootout shooting percentage was Buffalo with 12 goals on 26 shots, scoring 46.2% of the time. Ottawa finished last with a disappointing 3/22 on shootouts (13.6%)

Top Ten Shooters Last Year (Goals)

For your reference, I have added in the table of the top ten shootout scorers in goals. Bryan Little’s team leading 3 goals last year, is nowhere near Alex Tanguay and Jarret Stoll who top off the list. It is funny to think that each of these top 10 shootout scorers, scored more goals than the entire Senators’ team did last season.

A. Tanguay10/1662.5%
J.  Stoll9/1090%
R. Vrbata7/1163.6%
M. Ribeiro6/1060%
T. Vanek5/683.3%
E. Christensen5/862.5%
B. Boyes5/862.5%
F. Nielsen5/862.5%
M. Zuccarello5/955.6%

The table below shows the career shootout stats for the current active Winnipeg Jets. The top three in career goals is quite similar to the top three last season. Blake Wheeler has had the most success at 9/25, with Brian Little and Andrew Ladd coming in behind him. Nik Antropov has taken the 3rd most shots on the team, with 14, but his 3 goals give him only a 21% success rate. Dustin Byfuglien is 0/6 in his career after going 0/1 in 2010-11; perhaps the shootout isn’t his cup of tea. Other surprises on the list include Tim Stapleton at 2/2 and Evander Kane at 0/4. I’d like to see these two shoot a few more times before I buy in to a small sample size.

Winnipeg Jets Career shootout stats

B. Wheeler9/2536%
B. Little6/2227.3%
A Ladd3/933.3%
N. Antropov3/1421.4%
T. Stapleton2/2100%
J. Slater1/1100%
A Burmistrov1/333.3%
C. Thorburn0/10.0%
T. Enstrom0/10.0%
R. Hainsey0/10.0%
E. Fehr0/30.0%
E. Kane0/40.0%
D. Byfuglien0/60.0%

Now that we have looked at the offensive ability of the team on shootouts, let’s examine how the goaltenders fared last season in the shootout. I will only be examining save percentage and not wins/losses as the goalie is only responsible for stopping pucks, not scoring goals.

2010-2011 Goalie Shootout Records

PlayerGoals Allowed/ShotsSv %
O. Pavelec9/24.625
C. Mason4/17.765

Chris Mason was much more effective in the shootout than the young Ondrej Pavelec. As a tandem, the Atlanta Thrashers goalies ranked 14th in save percentage with .683. Perhaps overall goaltending skill doesn’t completely translate to shootouts. Surprisingly, Vancouver and Boston had .586 and .542 save percentages last season in the shootout putting them at 26th and 28th amongst the league in save percentage. Colorado was at the top of the list allowing an unheard of 2 goals on 27 shots (.926 save percentage)

For you reference I have included the top 10 goalie performances last season in the shootout (minimum 10 shots against).

Top 10 Goalie Save Percentages Last Year

PlayerGoals Allowed/ShotsSv %
P. Budaj1/14.929
C. Anderson1/12.917
B. Elliott1/10.900
J. Howard2/17.882
H. Lundqvist7/46.848
J. Hiller4/26.846
T. Vokoun2/13.846
M. Fleury6/38.842
C. Crawford3/19.842
J. Quick8/44.818

How did last season’s performance compare to the career numbers of the two goaltenders?

Winnipeg Jets career goalie stats

PlayerGoals Allowed/ShotsPercentage
C. Mason30/101.703
O. Pavelec15/35.571

It looks as though Ondrej Pavelec needs some getting used to the shootout.  Would it be a wise strategy for Coach Noel to use Chris Mason as a “closer” should games that Pavelec starts go into a shootout? While he will probably let Pavelec take his bumps in order to develop as a goaltender, there is a clear difference in shootout ability.

As stated earlier, the 2010-2011 Atlanta Thrashers record in the shootout was 5-7, a 417 winning percentage, gaining 17 of a possible 24 points.

Alternatively, the New York Rangers, made the playoffs in the 8th position with 93 points, over Carolina who had 91 points. Is it much of a surprise that the difference between these two teams was the shootout? The New York Rangers were 9-3, a .750 winning percentage, picking up 21 of a possible 24 points. The Hurricanes were 5-5, a .500 winning percentage, picking up 15 of a possible 20 points.

As ridiculous as some may think it is to decide games with a shootout, after looking at last season’s standings, the shootout can be the difference between making the playoffs and not. If the Winnipeg Jets want to maximize their chances to make the playoffs next season, they will have to improve on last seasons’ record of 5-7 in shootouts.

Who do you think should be taking the puck for the Jets in the shootout next season? Sound off in the comments.

The author of this article is Michael Remis, follow him on twitter @mremis