The Boston Bruins have the first 20 games of the season behind them. After the first 20 contests, the Bruins occupy the second overall spot in the NHL, tied with three different teams for 29 points, seven points below the Capitals (with the Bruins having three games in hand).
What could have been a nice, hard-fought victory, came up as yet another disappointment in the shootout lottery. For the Bruins, it’s not about lottery anymore. It’s almost a certainty of a loss for them.
“Usually, shootouts are 50/50, but for us right now it feels like it’s about 20/80,” said David Pastrnak after yet another shootout loss for the Bruins. Pastrnak himself is 0-for-3 in the shootouts this year and only 3-for-20 overall in his career. For being one of the best scorers in the league right now, that number seems odd.
This season, it’s not solely on Pastrnak. The Bruins are 0-for-4 in shootouts and only 2-for-16 in shots attempted during shootouts. Pastrnak also missed one penalty shot attempt late with the game tied against the Philadelphia Flyers for a potential game-winner.
Those lone two shootout goals for Boston this season are courtesy of Charlie Coyle. Last season, the Bruins were 2-for-5 in the shootouts, with their latest shootout coming up in St. Louis, where Coyle scored as well. Coyle has proven his worth in the shootouts. Otherwise, not much aid has come his way.
Brad Marchand is 0-for-4 on the season. “It’s just about luck. Sometimes they go in sometimes they don’t. I guess that’s hockey,” said Marchand unfazed after practice on Monday. However, in their last four seasons, the Bruins were 11-for-22 in the shootout, fundamentally the 50/50 ratio Pastrnak was talking about.
Their last season with a shootout success rate above 50 percent came in the 2015-16 campaign, when they went 4-for-6. Nevertheless, their shootout loss at home versus Carolina in Game 80 might have cost them the playoffs in 2016. Noah Hanifin won the shootout that time for the Hurricanes.
This season, the Bruins are 0-for-5 in the contests played beyond 60 minutes. “We lost a lot of [overtime games] early, at least we’re getting our opportunities to win in overtime, so we’d like to be able to close one of those out,” said Bruce Cassidy.
Only one other team in the NHL has played at least one overtime and hasn’t recorded a victory yet: the Minnesota Wild. The Wild played only two overtimes and are a dead-last team in the NHL.
“In our group, now, at some point, the conversation becomes ‘do you sell out in overtime because we struggle in shootouts, right?’ But we’re not going to overanalyze. Every day, it’s been so much time in practice so we can’t forget about the rest of the game that I feel is more important for us down the road, but we do need to address it,” reacted Cassidy.
Despite the frustration, the Bruins remain calm. Being perfect in shootouts would nestle the Bruins at the top of the standings. Notwithstanding, they are looking at the larger picture.