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How the Shootout Changed the Way We Look At Statistics

When the NHL came back from the lockout for the 2005-2006 season, one of the biggest new ideas was the use of a shootout to actually determine a winner at the end of every game. Prior to the lockout, if a game was still undecided after a 5 minute overtime period, the game would end in a tie with each team being awarded 1 point. However, the NHL decided that in order to make the game more appealing for fans, a shootout would be introduced, and the winner of the shootout would be awarded 2 points and the loser still 1 point. Little did the NHL realize that this would change the game of hockey as we know it – specifically, how we view our players and teams today. When a team wins 50 games, we consider that a fantastic accomplishment. When a goalie wins 35 games, we view that as a strong season. But with the shootout now forcing every game to an end in a win or a loss, all of these statistics are now altered in a manner that no longer allows us to compare them to anything pre-lockout. Specifically, there are three statistics that have been altered to such a degree that it will change our record books forever, and yet we don’t realize it. The three statistics that I will look at are 100 point seasons by a team, 50 win seasons by a team, and goaltender wins, both career and single season.

Before starting anything  off, I’ll just quantify how much the shootout has affected the game of hockey since its implementation in 2005-2006. As of 1/31/2012, there have been a total of 8,115 games played, with 1,052 games ending in a shootout. That’s an astounding 13% of games that used to end in ties, that now end in a shootout. Let that figure sink in for a moment. 13% of games that used to end in a tie with both teams getting 1 point now end with one team getting an extra point and a plus-1 for the win column. We’ve had 3 teams play more than 80 games that ended in a shootout since its inception. How has that inflated their win and point totals over the last few seasons? Let’s take a look at our first key statistic.

I want to start off with the category that has been altered the most by the shootout, and that is team wins. I think it’s safe to say that when a team wins 50 games in a season, we consider that to be an outstanding year. 50 wins usually means your team is a top 4 seed in its conference and one of the top handful of teams in the NHL. So we’ll run back to 1967-1968 (first year with more than the Original Six) and see how many teams have won 50 games or more over the years. I will point out which years are key in terms of the addition of more games or the implementation of overtime and such.

Season # of 50 win teams Season # of 50 win teams
1967-1968 0 1989-1990 0
1968-1969 0 1990-1991 0
1969-1970 0 1991-1992 1
1970-1971 1 1992-1993 2
1971-1972 1 1993-1994 1
1972-1973 2 1994-1995 0
1973-1974 2 1995-1996 1
1974-1975 1 1996-1997 0
1975-1976 2 1997-1998 0
1976-1977 1 1998-1999 1
1977-1978 2 1999-2000 1
1978-1979 2 2000-2001 1
1979-1980 0 2001-2002 1
1980-1981 0 2002-2003 1
1981-1982 1 2003-2004 0
1982-1983 1 2005-2006 5
1983-1984 2 2006-2007 5
1984-1985 1 2007-2008 1
1985-1986 3 2008-2009 5
1986-1987 1 2009-2010 4
1987-1988 0 2010-2011 1
1988-1989 2 2011-2012 6

There’s a few years I want to point out

1967-1968 – They were still playing a 76 game season at this point

1970-1971 – Introduction of the 78 game season

1973-1974 – Bernie Parent wins 47 games (We’ll touch on this later)

1974-1975 – Introduction of 80 game season

1983-1984 – Introduction of 5 minute OT period

1992-1993 – Introduction of 84 game season

1994-1995 – Lockout, only 48 games played

1995-1996 – Introduction of 82 game season

2005-2006 – Introduction of Shootout

2011-2012 – Projected to have 6 teams with 50 or more wins

One thing that we can see from this is that since 1967-1968, 56 teams have won 50 or more games (not including projected 2011-2012), showing that it’s a rare occurrence, as we maybe average 1 or 2 teams a season. However, of those 56 teams, 21 have occurred in the last 6 years. So in the previous 37 years, we had 35 teams win 50 or more games, but in just the last 6 years, we’ve averaged almost 4 teams a season getting to the 50 win mark. We can also see that the introduction of a 5 minute OT in 1983-1984 had a negligible effect on this particular statistic. From here, I want to look at one specific historical comparison that gets made when comparing some of the greatest franchises of all time.

From 1975-1976 to 1978-1979, the Montreal Canadiens were the most dominant team. They won 50 or more games for 4 consecutive seasons, a feat that we did not see matched until 30 years had elapsed, when the Detroit Red Wings ran off 50 or more wins from 2005-2006 (note that the streak starts at the implementation of the shootout) to 2008-2009. These two franchises are often compared because this is such a rare feat, but in reality, what the Red Wings accomplished does not matchup. Let’s take a look.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Detroit Red Wings

From 1975-1976 to 1978-1979, the Canadiens won a ridiculous 229 games, with a high point of 60 wins in 1976-1977. Keep in mind that the entire streak was done in 80 game seasons. They had seasons of 58 wins, 59 wins, 60 wins, and 52 wins, all done without the aid of overtime or a shootout.

Detroit Red Wings

From 2005-2006 to 2008-2009, the Red Wings won 213 games*. I asterisk that because 17 of those wins came in the shootout and here’s the season by season breakdown

2005-2006 – 58 wins —> 4 in the shootout —> 54 Regulation-Overtime Wins (ROW)

2006-2007 – 50 wins —> 2 in the shootout —> 48 ROW (already we see the “streak” stopped here)

2007-2008 – 54 wins —> 5 in the shootout —> 49 ROW (again, fewer than 50 wins)

2008-2009 – 51 wins —> 6 in the shootout —> 45 ROW

So in actuality, the Red Wings had one season with more than 50 wins and that season pales in comparison to the Canadiens’ seasons of 58, 60, and 59 wins during their streak. This is something that often gets lost among current fans who view the Red Wings as modern day dynasty. I’m not taking anything away from the Red Wings as they are our current model of NHL consistency and the closest thing that we’ve had to a dynasty in the last 20 years, but their “streak” is skewed because of the shootout and thus is not on the same level as what the Canadiens did back in the late 70’s. On a side note, after seeing how much the shootout has skewed win totals, think about how impressive it was for the Canadiens to win 60 games in an 80 game season in 76-77 or the Red Wings winning 62 games in the 95-96 season. It really puts those two statistics in perspective

The next thing I want to look at is team points as they go hand in hand with wins. Again, our modern day standard is a 100 point season, so we’ll look at all the 100 point seasons over the last 43 seasons, and we’ll project out this season. Please keep in mind all of the qualifiers mentioned for the 50 win teams and that the 2011-2012 season is projected.

Season # of 100 point teams Season # of 100 point teams
1967-1968 0 1989-1990 1
1968-1969 2 1990-1991 5
1969-1970 0 1991-1992 1
1970-1971 3 1992-1993 7
1971-1972 4 1993-1994 4
1972-1973 3 1994-1995 0
1973-1974 3 1995-1996 4
1974-1975 4 1996-1997 4
1975-1976 5 1997-1998 3
1976-1977 5 1998-1999 3
1977-1978 5 1999-2000 7
1978-1979 3 2000-2001 7
1979-1980 4 2001-2002 3
1980-1981 3 2002-2003 7
1981-1982 3 2003-2004 10
1982-1983 4 2005-2006 10
1983-1984 5 2006-2007 11
1984-1985 3 2007-2008 5
1985-1986 3 2008-2009 7
1986-1987 2 2009-2010 11
1987-1988 2 2010-2011 8
1988-1989 2 2011-2012 9

So in the last 43 seasons, we’ve had 186 teams finish with 100 points or more, so an average of about 4 teams a season. However, as was the case with the 50 win teams, 52 of the 186 teams (28%) have occurred in the past 6 seasons. Prior to the lockout, we average about 3.6 teams a season that made it to the 100 point plateau. Since the lockout, that number has spiked up to 8.67, and we are again on pace for 9 this year. Think about that. The number of 100 point teams per season nearly tripled with the implementation of the shootout. How can we really measure how a good a team is now if we can no longer look at the past because of numbers like this? I’ll show another Red Wings vs. Canadiens example to back up the point

Those same Canadiens that won 50 or more games 4 years in a row also had a streak from 1974-1975 to 1981-1982 where they earned 100 points or more in each season (again we should acknowledge that these were done in 80 game seasons). That record stood the test of time, until the Red Wings, from 1999-2000 to present, topped that streak with an incomprehensible 11 consecutive seasons of 100 points or more. However, when we actually look at that streak, it takes a bit of a ding in its armor. We’ll pick it up by looking at the streak since the shootout was implemented.

2005-2006 (6th consecutive season) – 124 points –> earned 9 points in the shootout/OT loss –> adjusted points are 115

2006-2007 – 113 points –> 8 shootout/OT loss points –> 105 points

2007-2008 – 115 points –> 7 shootout/OT loss points –> 108 points

2008-2009 – 112 points –> 12 shootout/OT loss points –> 100 points

2009-2010 – 102 points –> 10 shootout/OT loss points –> 92 points* (streak ends at 9 consecutive seasons)

2010-2011 – 104 points –> 11 shootout/OT loss points –> 93 points

So what we see from this is that the Red Wings would have just barely broken the record when taking away the shootout, as they earned 100 points in 2008-2009 to clinch the record (if we really wanted to, we could take away the Red Wings OT wins since the Canadiens didn’t have OT and the two franchises would be tied at 8 consecutive seasons). However, we see that that record would have ended the following year, and they would actually be two years removed from a 100 point season as they also failed to reach that mark last season. We can really see how much the shootout has altered our view of wins and points and it has especially inflated our opinion of what the Red Wings are doing. Again, I want to remind everyone that I’m not taking anything away from what the Wings have accomplished. I’m merely just trying to put what they’re doing into an accurate historical context.

Finally, the last and most important thing I wanted to look at are goaltender wins. Martin Brodeur, our new king of wins, sits at 639 wins, 88 wins ahead of 2nd place Patrick Roy. Since the lockout, Brodeur has posted an NHL record 48 wins in a single season in 06-07, 4 40 win seasons in the 6 years, and has amassed 236 wins in the last 6 years.  But what happens if you take away the shootout from Martin Brodeur? What happens if you let Patrick Roy play in the shootout era? Let’s take a look at Martin Brodeur first.

Prior to the 2005-2006 season, Martin Brodeur had 403 wins. Let’s look at each season of his since the lockout.

2005-2006 – 43 wins –> 8 SO Wins –> 35 wins

2006-2007 – 48 wins –> 10 SO Wins –> 38 wins

2007-2008 – 44 wins –> 8 SO Wins –> 36 wins

2008-2009 – 19 wins –> 2 SO Wins –> 17 wins

2009-2010 – 45 wins –> 6 SO Wins –> 39 wins

2010-2011 – 23 wins –> 1 SO Win –> 22 wins

2011-2012 – 14 wins –> 5 SO Wins –> 9 wins

What can we see from this? First off, Brodeur loses 40 wins from his win total, dropping him to 599 which would still make him the record holder by 48 wins. Second, Brodeur’s incredible 48 win season that broke Bernie Parent’s 33 year old record of 47 wins? Well Brodeur won 10 of those games in a shootout, so throw those out and all of a sudden, you are looking at a 38 win season. Those 4 40 win seasons since the lockout? All are gone, with his highest total being 39. Now, let’s take a look at Patrick Roy. Patrick Roy had 551 wins, but the incredible fact is that he also has 131 ties. What if Patrick Roy could have a percentage of those played out in a shootout? What if Roy could have had that opportunity? Are we talking about Brodeur still owning that record? I think the answer is that Brodeur would still own that record, but what I lean towards now is the fact that, any goalie that gets the opportunity to play his entire career under the new shootout rules has an incredible opportunity to break Brodeur’s record. There are 2 goalies that I have my eye on in terms of having a shot – Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist is regarded as a model of consistency. Every year he has been in the NHL, he has won at least 30 games and he’s just 29 years old. He has 235 career wins so far and could really get up there in the win total department. Let’s take a look

05-06 – 30 wins –> 4 SO wins –> 26 ROW

06-07 – 37 wins –> 8 SO wins –> 29 ROW

07-08 – 37 wins –> 7 SO wins –> 30 ROW

08-09 – 38 wins –> 9 SO wins –> 29 ROW

09-10 – 35 wins –> 1 SO win –> 34 ROW

10-11 – 36 wins –> 7 SO wins –> 29 ROW

So in actuality, Lundqvist has only had 2 seasons where he won more than 30 games if we look at just regulation and overtime wins. 38 of Lundqvist’s 235 wins have come in the shootout. You can really appreciate how much of an advantage this is for goaltender’s in today’s game. Instead of seeing his win total be at 197 through 6.5 season, Lundqvist is at 235 and looking very solid, thanks to the shootout.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Fleury is the guy regarded by most as the goalie with the best shot of reaching Brodeur’s mark. He plays for a team that will be a contender every year, and at this time, is only 34 wins behind Brodeur (At age 27, Brodeur had 244 wins, Fleury has 210). So Fleury has 210 wins at the young age of 27, but how inflated are his statistics?

05-06 – 0 SOW (Shootout Wins)

06-07 – 10 SOW

07-08 – 3 SOW

08-09 – 4 SOW

09-10 – 6 SOW

10-11 – 9 SOW

11-12 – 6 SOW already

So we can again see that 38 of Fleury’s 210 wins have come in the shootout, and thus you can really appreciate how much of an advantage modern day goalie’s have over those of the past. Bernie Parent’s name will slowly fade into the back as more guys start hitting the 40 win mark (Jimmy Howard is on pace for 50 wins this year, but he has 4 SO wins already), but in actuality, what Parent accomplished is far more impressive than anything any of these modern day goalies have done. People will point out that goalies back then played more, but Parent played 73 games that season. Brodeur played 78 to win his 48. Howard is on pace to play 71-72 games. Parent didn’t play any more than these guys today.


The moral of the story is that the shootout has vastly altered our perception of players and teams today. We still feel that 50 wins, 100 points, and more than 35 wins for a goalie are the benchmarks for being top notch, but the shootout has made it that much easier to reach all three of those. We now overvalue the success of teams like the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks, and we place too much merit in the accomplishments of guys like Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Henrik Lundqvist. I don’t want to take away anything from what these guys have accomplished because they cannot control the fact that they play in this era, but it’s almost as if we need to have a pre-lockout record book and a post-lockout record book the way things are going. Count me as a fan of the old game, and the old rules, and the old points system, and also count me as a guy who won’t forget what guys like Parent and Sawchuk accomplished, or what the Canadiens of the late 70’s did.


Prashanth Iyer

Prashanth Iyer

Prashanth is a third year doctor of pharmacy student at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill, NC. Prashanth is studying to be an infectious disease pharmacist, but in his spare time, he watches any hockey game he can catch. He was born and raised just outside Detroit, Michigan and hence is a big Red Wings fan. He is always willing to hear any and all debates pertaining to his articles, so feel free to contact him.
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