How much of an epidemic are shootouts? Not quite at all

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Things are rosy past regulation in the NHL compared to a decade ago when ties were far too regular an event, but don't let that get in the way of complaining about the shootout happening too often (it's not.)

One tweet set me off, one tweet made me have to research something instead of working on a preview of tonight's Lightning versus Phoenix Coyotes tilt at Times Palace:  Dave Lozo playing up the "get rid of the shootout" rhetoric once again.

242 games in the NHL this season  have resulted in a overtime loss or a shootout loss... That can very much look like a legit issue, now can't it?

Okay, let's do a little research, shall we kids?  Let's go back to 2002-03, the second to last full season that the tie was used (four column results in those days for ties and overtime losses - the loser point existed back then too).  In that season, in the Eastern Conference alone, there were 224 games settled by tie or resulted in an overtime loss.  224 games.  Both columns are included because as it stands right now, overtime losses and the shootout are combined in NHL standings.

In 2011-12, the last full 82 game season that was completed (without, there was a monstrous total of 150 games marked as an overtime loss or a shootout loss.  150 games!  This epidemic needs to end! ...or people need to get off the misconception that there are too many shootouts happening, because if there are, then there were far too many ties in the past.

Let's call up the Western Conference data from those two seasons; 243 overtime losses/ties as to 150 overtime losses/shootout losses.

Go look at the data yourselves - 2002-03 final standings and 2011-12 final standings. If the shootout is an "epidemic," then ties were an outright apocalyptic pandemic of biblical proportions.  If you take ties alone, the Eastern Conference produced 149 in 2002-03, while the Western Conference produced 165. That's 12.7% of the NHL season with no winner.

So, keep complaining about the shootout... Keep saying it's a problem without looking at history or with no memory of how the league used to deem ties as the problem.  I'll stand by the notion the points system is the problem, but I doubt that's going to matter to traditionalists that won't see past their own bias.

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