What's the Best Strategy for the Shootout?

Last week's shootouts against he Capitals and Sabres were very frustrating to watch. Our best offensive threat, Phil Kessel, went 0 for 2; one a shot into the pads and another a feeble attempt at a deke. Versteeg continued his half-assing with a lackadaisical shot on Enroth and the Kulemin move didn't work. Only John Mitchell was able to find the back of the net on one of his awesome dekes. I don't know about you, but I get very frustrated seeing players in the shootout skate right down the middle and shoot directly into the goalie. So that got me thinking, is it better to deke or shoot in the shootout?

All of the figures and stats I use in this post can be found in this spreadsheet. All data pulled from NHL.com

Going back to the lockout, players have a 32.88% success rate in the shootout; a high of 33.71% in 2008-09 and a low of 32.12% last season. This season, with a low sample size of only 106 shootout attempts, the success rate is 34.91%. Basically the numbers say that players have a 1 in 3 chance of scoring in a shootout. (Wasn't the shootout implemented so there'd be more goal scoring?) Ok, well those are overall numbers. Do the players have the ability to increase their chances depending on shot selection; do they deke or do they shoot? It turns out they can. Follow me after the jump for the numbers.

To compile stats on deke vs shot scoring percentages, I watched video of every shootout in the NHL this season. For those counting at home, there have been 16 so far. I then judged, based on the replays, whether or not a shooter deked the goalie or took a shot. This is somewhat subjective but check out the spreadsheet and let me know if you have any disagreements. I then recorded missed dekes, missed shots, goal dekes, and goal shots as well as who the shooter and the goalie were.

After 106 shootout attempt reviews, here are the numbers:

Players deke 54.72 % of the time (58 out of 106 attempts)

Players shoot 45.28% of the time (48 out of 106 attempts)

Those who elect to deke, score 37.93% of the time (22 goals on 58 attempts)

Those who elect to shoot, score 31.25% of the time (15 goals on 48 attempts)

Also of note, from my observations it seemed that those who deked had more chances to score but simply missed the net, (See Corey Perry's attempt where he beats Chris Mason but misses a wide open net) whereas, those who elected to shoot, when they missed, almost always put the puck directly into a goalie's pads. So there's a case to be made that players miss by less when dekeing.

Leafs shooters have shot 3 times, missing them all, and deked 4 times with only John Mitchell scoring. Below average.

Toronto's shootout percentage has steadily risen each year since the lockout all the way up to 3rd in the league last year with a 45% success rate. I'm going to attribute this to the donning of the rally caps.

So in conclusion, for the best chance of scoring in a shootout, players should deke instead of shoot. To keep up on the data, I'm going to update my spreadsheet after every shootout and will repost the findings at the end of the season.

...............................

Well enough about shooters, what about the goalies? How do you beat them? Time to don my scouting cap and give you some grade A advice on what to do against specific goalies in the shootout based on their play so far this season. (Sure some of these have small sample sizes, but it's just for good fun)

Niklas Backstrom of the Wild - 3 goals on 4 dekes; 1 goal on 4 shots - Deke

Ilya Bryzgalov of the Coyotes - 0 goals on 2 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - Shoot

Peter Budaj of the Avalanche - 0 goals on 3 dekes; 0 goals on 2 shots - Pray

Chris Mason of the Thrashers - 0 goals on 3 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - Hit the net Corey Perry

Ty Conklin of the Blues - 2 goals on 2 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - Sound the goal horn

Rick DiPietro of the Islanders - 1 goal on 1 deke; 1 goal on 3 shots - Deke and pull his groin

Devan Dubnyk of the Oilers - 1 goal on 1 deke; 1 goal on 1 shot - LOiLers

Jhonas Enroth of the Sabres - 1 goal on 2 dekes; 0 goals on 3 shots - Everyone stops the Leafs

J.S. Giguere of the Leafs - 1 goal on 3 dekes; 1 goal on 3 shots - Shoot or deke high glove

Jonas Gustavsson of the Leafs - 1 goal on 2 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - Ovie and Semin are going to score every time

Jaroslav Halak of the Blues - 1 goal on 2 dekes; 0 goals on 3 shots - Pray

Jonas Hiller of the Ducks - 0 goals on 1 deke; 1 goal on 3 shots - Nigel Dawes?

Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings - 1 goal on 3 dekes; 0 goals on 3 shots - Beat him before the shootout

Brent Johnson of the Penguins - 0 goals on 2 dekes; 0 goals on 1 shot - Watch for the poke-check

Nikolai Khabibulin of the Oilers - 0 goals on 1 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - You went to a shootout against the Oilers?

Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames - 0 goals on 3 dekes; 0 goals on 0 shots - Too good for dekes, switching to shots

Kari Lehtonen of the Stars - 1 goal on 3 dekes; 0 goals on 2 shots - Be Brad Boyes

Roberto Luongo of the Canucks - 2 goals on 2 shots; 3 goals on 3 shots - Put in Cory Schneider cold like Julie Gaffney in Mighty Ducks 2

Michal Neuvirth of the Capitals - 0 goals on 2 dekes; 0 goals on 0 shots - The Leafs don't strike again

Ondrej Pavelec of the Thrashers - 3 goals on 4 dekes; 0 goals on 2 shots - DEKE

Jonathan Quick of the Kings - 1 goal on 3 dekes; 0 goals on 3 shots - And Bernier is even better

Steve Mason of the Blue Jackets - 0 goals on 1 deke; 0 goals on 1 shot - You couldn't beat Columbus in regulation?

Marty Turco of the Blackhawks - 1 goal on 4 dekes; 2 goals on 4 shots - Take advantage of his slow, old man reflexes

Cam Ward of the Hurricanes - 0 goals on 2 dekes; 1 goal on 1 shot - Shoot hard enough to slice his leg

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