The Bruins have hit a bit of a slide. After tearing the league apart in October, they’ve lost 4 straight, the last two being in the shootout.
Every time the Bruins go into a shootout, it feels like they’ve lost before the first shot is even taken. Then after they lose, it feels like they’ve never won a shootout in their franchise’s history.
How come? Well, it’s because they’ve been the worst shootout team in the league since it was implemented in the 05-06 season. Since then, the Bruins have played in 140 shootouts, going 64-76 for a winning percentage of 45.75%, 7th worst in the league. Ironically, 2 of those 7 teams below them are the Flyers and Panthers, the two teams they just lost to in the shootout in back to back games.
They’ve taken 528 attempts, scoring on 135 of them. That’s 25.6%, worst in the league, and 1.6% worse than the next-worst team, the Flyers, at 27.2%. They’ve been fortunate to have Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask as the goalie in the majority of those games, as the Bruind have the second-best save percentage in the league in shootout history at .718, second to the Tampa Bay Lightning at .731. Thomas and Rask are the reason the Bruins aren’t last in winning percentage despite their league-worst converstion percentage.
If you look at a more recent timeline, it’s even worse. Since the 2013-14 season, the Bruins are shooting 19.2% (40 for 208). That is 4.2% worse than the next worst team in that span, the Devils at 23.4%. Scoring less than 1 goal in every 5 attempts is not going to win shootouts. They’re 18-30 in 48 shootouts in that span, a 37.5% winning percentage, worse than every team except for the Flyers and Devils. It’s even worse considering the goaltending they’ve had, which is once again second in the league with a sv% of .754, second to only the Blue Jackets at .758.
Year by year, it hasn’t been all bad. They were remarkably good in the 2011-12 season, going 9-3 and scoring on half of their attempts, big thanks to Tyler Seguin going 6 for 12, Patrice Bergeron 5 for 8, and David Krejci 5 for 10. They were good in 2006-07, going 9-4, and went 10-9 in a whopping 19 shootouts in 09-10. Their goaltending propelled them to a 4-2 record in just 6 shootouts in 2016 thanks to a .895 sv%. The rest, as you might imagine, is pretty terrible. They’re off to an 0-3 start this season, scoring on just 1 of their 11 attempts. They went 4-10 in 2015, shooting 15% – that cost them a playoff spot. Last season they went 2-3 at 19.2%, and in 2013-14 they went 3-6 at 19.4%. This is almost unbelievable considering how good of a team the Bruins have been for the majority of shootout era, and the players they’ve been able to run out there. The one exception is the first year, 2005-06, when the Bruins were just a bad team and went 2-8 in the shootout.
So why have they been so bad? Honestly, I can’t come up with an explanation. Hilariously, their top 3 shooters have been Tyler Seguin (47.4%), Phil Kessel (35.7%), and Blake Wheeler (31.8%), so trading those guys away definitely didn’t help their case. Seguin, Kessel, and Wheeler are also the only 3 Bruins with at least 10 shootout attempts to have a shooting percentage above 30%, the unanimous benchmark for a good shootout scorer. Bergeron (28.1%), Krejci (28%), and Brad Marchand (22.5%) have all contributed, but not nearly to the degree that you would expect out of players of their caliber. The concerning thing is when you go to the bottom of the list and see certified goal scorers not scoring in the shootout. Loui Eriksson went 0-7 in his Bruins career. Danton Heinen is 0 for 5. Rich Peverley and Jarome Iginla each went 1 for 6. Glen Murray 1 for 9, Torey Krug 2 for 11, Reilly Smith 3 for 13, and most shockingly, David Pastrnak is just 3 for 19 in his career. Simply put, their best players, players who they need to rely on in the shootout and who you’d expect to be good shootout scorers, aren’t scoring enough.
If it seems like the Bruins have never won a shootout, it’s because they don’t often. Their bottom third of the league record all time could be worse if it wasn’t for some of the best goaltending. It’s a matter of they’re best players not scoring on a one on one against the goalie. Scoring less than once out of every five shots over the last six-plus season is truly terrible, and pretty shocking considering they’ve iced the best line in hockey over that time period among other good offensive scorers. Teams aren’t built to win shootouts, so it’s a matter of the Pastrnaks, Marchands, Bergerons, and whoever else they put out there scoring when they need it. The only thing they can do to change their luck score more goals. It sounds stupid but it is what it is.
Or the league could just do away with the shootout and give us more 3 on 3 OT, but that’s a debate for another day.
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