The "Big Three" and their absence from the shootout
There was a question raised by some during the Lightning's shootout loss to the Washington Capitals last night, and that question was repeated by others this morning. It has to do with strategy, it has to do with perception of ability, it has to do with the fierce urgency to score in the shootout.
The question being raised was about head coach Guy Boucher's decision not to employ any of the perceived "Big Three" (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos) during the shootout. All three players are known for their goal scoring ability, all three players have produced highlight-reel goals during games that make fans salivate and goalies despair.
So why aren't they being tapped first and foremost when the game is on the line? Because the shootout is a different beast, and Vinny, Marty, and Stamkos aren't shoe-ins to score.
You can see on NHL.com the team's shootout statistics:
|Player||Pos||Home: S||G||S%||GDG||Road: S||G||S%||GDG||Total: S||G||S%||GDG|
|2||Martin St Louis||R||16||5||31.2||3||13||1||7.7||1||29||6||20.7||4|
Of the 23 skaters on the roster (including Scott Jackson and Mattias Ohlund, who are on injured reserve, as well as some of the players that are currently in the AHL), 18 of them have participated in the shootout. For some reason, retired forward Gary Roberts is listed on the shootout performance roster. I won't count him and we'll just call it an anomaly and look past it.
Of those 18 players, only 3 have more than 20 attempts during the shootout. I bet you can guess who they are. Captain Lecavalier has 48 total attempts, Marty has 29, and Steven Stamkos (in his short career thus far) has 21. Only three other players on the Lightning roster have double-digit attempts in the shootout (Ryan Shannon - 12, Adam Hall - 10, Ryan Malone - 10). This tells you who have been the go-to guys.
Of those six players, it's Malone and Hall who leads the roster in shootout scoring percentage (30%), it's Vinny that's in the lead for total goals scored (12). With Marty and Stamkos? They're both flirting around 20% in scoring percentage.
Decent numbers, right? Compare them with big names from around the league: Brad Richards has a 41% shooting percentage on 61 attempts in his career, Sidney Crosby is at 40.4 (21/52), Alex Ovechkin is 29.3% (17/58). Then behold the lesser stars - Jussi Jokinen is the all-time shootout leader with 28 goals (on 60 attempts, a 46.7% rate), the Rangers Erik Christensen has gone 23/44; Andy McDonald of the St. Louis Blues is 15/41 (36.6%); Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks is 19/42.
Tampa Bay's "Big Three" look a lot smaller in comparison, and make you realize that their abilities that we know about don't make them locks to score in the shootout. Yeah, we still expect them to because it's Vinny, Marty, and Stammer. But all three have had their struggles in the one-on-one competition.
And at the same time, all three have show us just what they can do in the shootout, though it doesn't always work.
And with struggles, that means other players in the lineup should get a chance to show their stuff.