Shootout Struggles: What’s Going On?

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The Capitals are having a great season thus far and have a lot of strengths and very few weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is the inability to win games in shootout fashion. The Capitals won’t have to worry about this issue come playoff time, where they decide the tiebreaker in sudden-death overtime, but that’s still a ways down the road. In the meantime, lets look at why the Capitals might be struggling in the shootout. 

Let’s take a look at the six shootout games the Caps have been in this season:

1. Oct. 13: at Pittsburgh L 3-2
The Capitals opened their season in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins raised another Stanley Cup banner to their rafters. The Capitals scored twice in the shootout while the Penguins were successful three times for the win. Pittsburgh was unsuccessful in the first round of the shootout. Washington, on the other hand was unsuccessful twice including in the final round.

2. Dec. 3: at Tampa Bay L 2-1
The second shootout for the Capitals this season didn’t come until December. The Capitals lost this one too. This shootout was made possible with a game-tying goal by Nicklas Backstrom in the third period. Washington was only successful once and unsuccessful three times. The Lightning were successful twice and unsuccessful twice.

3. Dec. 16: at Carolina W 4-3
This shootout was the lone one the Capitals won this season. This was made possible by a game-tying goal by T.J. Oshie in the third period. The Hurricanes struck first, then the Capitals scored twice then gave up two goals to the Canes to trail 3-2 before the Oshie tally. In the shootout, the Capitals were 2-for-2 while the Hurricanes were 0-for-2. The shootout goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov sent the Caps home happy.

4. Dec. 21: at Philadelphia L 3-2
The Capitals scored first in this road contest during the first period, as Andre Burakovsky found the back of the net for the fist time since the season opener. This shootout was made possible when the Flyers tied the game in the second period on a goal by Claude Giroux. T.J. Oshie scored the lone Capitals goal in the first round of the shootout and they were unsuccessful three times after that. The Flyers missed their first two shootout goals but were successful during the last two rounds to get the win.

5. Dec. 29: vs. New Jersey L 2-1
This contest was the first and only time so far this season that a Capitals shootout happened on home ice. The Devils scored first and the shootout was made possible by a game-tying shorthanded goal by Daniel Winnik in the third period. The Capitals went o-for-2 in the shootout while the Devils went 2-for-2.

6. Feb. 18: at Detroit L 3-2
This contest was the Capitals’ first game following the bye week. This game saw Washington come back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and ultimately the shootout. The game-tying goal came by Daniel Winnik in the third period. The Caps went 1-for-5 in the shootout while the Red Wings went 2-for-5.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-11-39-24-amThe Capitals holding an 0-2 mark in the shootout when the team scores first is a weird stat considering the Capitals overall record of 34-4-4 when they score first. T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov are clearly the best Caps players in the shootout rounds with their puck work and sheer wizardry.

captureAlex Ovechkin hasn’t notched a shootout goal this season and two of his three attempts came during the final round when Washington was trying to extend the game.

The team is on a current two-game losing streak having dropped both of their back-to-back weekend games. If there’s anything the Capitals would like to improve on with 24 games left in the regular season, it’s the shootout round.

By Michael Marzzacco

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5 Responses to Shootout Struggles: What’s Going On?

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    No more Ovechkin in the shootout. I like that Trotz is trying to fix it, trying new players. Would love to see Vrana get a crack.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Caps shootout scoring percentage could be better. Right now it is just average, at 33.3% (versus 32.4% NHL-wide.) The issue with the shootout record is the crappy goal-keeping of Holtby. (Grubauer stopped both opponent attempts in the Caps only SO win of the year.) Holtby, on the other hand, stops just 42.1% of all attempts. And it’s not like this year is an aberration; he’s never — in his entire career — ever approached the league average. Just like Oshie’s specialty is the SO, the Caps need to designate Grubauer as their go-to guy in the SO … unless they are concerned with damaging Holtby’s delicate psyche.

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