The shootout has never really been the Vancouver Canucks’ best friend. While the team is often criticized for their lack of success, and does not have players like Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the NHL with seven shootout goals in eight attempts, they do have the players and the skill needed to win shootouts. This year the Canucks have already battled through seven, winning three. The feeling that more and more Canucks’ games are decided in this nerve-racking, controversial way is shared by many. Last year the Canucks went through nine shootouts, winning four, and could very well top that this season.
Several players on the Canucks have proven their ability to score in the shootout. Two of them, Cody Hodgson and Alex Edler, scored the two lone Canucks’ goals in their last shootout against Edmonton on January 24. Hodgson’s skill in the shootout seemed to have sprung out of nowhere when he scored his first NHL shootout goal earlier this season against Montreal. He is 2/5 this season and has shown that he can deal with the pressure brought on in a shootout quite well.
Although Edler has only had one shot at the shootout so far this season, he scored an important goal and did it with confidence and calmness. He is 3/10 in his career and it would not be surprising to see him be used again. Lately head coach Alain Vigneault has been using multiple different players in the shootout to find success and Edler’s appearance was a surprise, but was also effective.
Two other players who have shown they can score are Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond. Burrows went 2/2 last season and is 2/5 this season. In his last few attempts it seems as if he has tried switching up his moves instead of using his normal sequence of dekes. If he uses his old moves, goalies may be able to guess what Burrows will do, however he has been extremely successful using them nonetheless. He has been the most consistent in the shootout of the present Canucks and has a flair for scoring important goals. He recently proved his shooting accuracy as well, during the Canucks’ Superskills event, winning the accuracy competition by hitting four targets in four shots.
Raymond is known for his spin-o-ramas and his speed, the latter of which is a very useful asset when going one-on-one with a goalie. He is 5/17 in his career. Although not as successful as Burrows, Raymond’s youth, skill and speed may help him score many more.
One player similar to Raymond who has not been used in the shootout before is Jannik Hansen. As he has no experience in an NHL shootout, using him may be a gamble, but his playing style is very similar to Raymond and he might be the type of shooter the Canucks can depend on each shootout. Another who has not seen shootout time with the Canucks is Maxim Lapierre, who is 3/6 in his career.
“We have enough guys who can score. We should be better,” captain Henrik Sedin, told the Province. “It’s up to the coach. He thinks he has better guys. But if we [him and Daniel] had another chance, we’d love to take it.” Their desire to be better is part of the reason why the twins are so good, but in this case, it may be wise to stay away from them. Neither has produced much in the shootout, with Henrik going 0/3 and Daniel going 4/21 in their careers. Ryan Kesler, whom many would turn to in a shootout, has not been productive either. He scored twice in eight shots last season, but has not managed to put the puck in the net at all in his three attempts this year.
Vigneault has many players he can choose from to compete in the shootout. He can use the players who he knows can score, the players with similar styles to the ones who have been successful or those who are willing to try again and again until they succeed. The Canucks have the ability to win more shootouts than they normally do. However, goalies need to be taken into account as well, as the outcome of shootouts depends heavily on the goaltenders – but that is a totally different story…