"When I was pretty good on the shootouts, there were no shootouts in the league. I was good. I remember in shootouts in practice I scored 10 goals. I was pretty good. That was 20 years ago.
I don't mind it. I don't know how to explain it actually. I've played so many years, you get a lot of new goalies in the league, younger goalies, so they're playing a different style. And whatever was good enough for me 20 years ago is not good enough right now because everything is changing. So, if I'm going to go on a breakaway against an old guy, I think I'd have some kind of advantage."
He hasn't been very successful in the skills competition, being just 6-for-24 in his career and having asked not to be called upon after going 0-for-4 during his 2006-2007 season with the New York Rangers. These stats aren't very comforting seeing as the Devils went to a shootout nine times during the shortened 2012-2013 season and sixteen times during the 2011-2012 season. The team faces the shootout more often than many fans would like, and they have lost key players to the competition over the last two seasons without necessarily replacing the skill.
Two seasons ago, the first three shooters for the Devils in the shootout were Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrik Elias. David Clarkson was given a chance in many of the shootouts last season, but he won't be taking a shot next season for the Devils, either. Since Elias is the only player still in New Jersey, there is a big question mark as to who will take the two open slots.
As for returning Devils, only Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac appeared in the shootout more than once last season - Zajac went 1-for-4 and Henrique went 0-for-2. Of the newest Devils, Ryan Clowe has the best success rate in shootouts - his 39% success rate (16-for-41) is higher than even Ilya Kovalchuk. Damien Brunner has only appeared in seven shootouts, finding the back of the net on two occasions - both game deciding goals. Michael Ryder went 0-for-1 last season and is 6-for-35 in his career.
So who can we expect to get a shot in first three shootout attempts? The only clear player is Elias. Before looking into the stats, my original thought was Zajac and Brunner attempting the shootout with Elias. After looking into the various success rates of the players listed above, it is tough to deny Clowe a chance.
In goal, the Devils struggled mightily in the shootout last season. Martin Brodeur went 0-for-4 allowing six goals on eleven shots. Hedberg saw a bit more success winning two of the five shootouts he participated in - he allowed six goals on sixteen shots. While Brodeur will have a shot at redeeming his poor performance in the shootout, and he has proven he can be quite successful during previous seasons, Hedberg will be replaced by Cory Schneider (although Schneider will be playing much more). For the Vancouver Canucks, Schneider won three of six shootouts last season allowing seven goals on twenty-one shots. In his career, Schneider is 5-for-7 in the shootout. There isn't much of a choice in which goalie will participate in the shootout, but both have shown their ability to succeed when called upon.
How will you feel watching the Devils if the game is brought to a shootout? Do you agree with Jagr who said,
"Let's hope we're going to beat everybody in regular time."
Which goalie would you feel more comfortable with in net in the skills competition? Who would you include in your top three shooters? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below. And of course, enjoy the first Devils game of the season tonight!