The idea that sacrificing points could be a good thing is a very questionable premise. The NHL standings are always tight and every point counts. And regardless of whether you love or hate the shootout, there is no denying the relevance of the points at stake. The Rangers have been beneficiaries of the shootout since it became a part of the NHL, earning so many victories that way. And that is exactly why I think the Rangers, who this season have only won one out of four shootouts, could actually benefit from missing out on those few points.
Since the 2008-2009 season the Rangers have won 22 out of 35 shootouts they have partaken in, or about 63%. The reality is that the Rangers needed those shootout victories to get into the playoffs, and that specifically holds true last season, where the Rangers needed virtually every single point they got from their nine shootout wins in twelve attempts in order to stay above the Hurricanes and win the final playoff spot in the East. The Rangers had 44 wins, so over 20% of their victories last season came in the shootout.
Which brings us to this season. The Rangers are on pace for 49.2 wins, which would easily be their highest total since the lockout. And yet only one of their 15 so far this season has come via the shootout. A whole 6.67%. A team usually dependent on the shootout is now succeeding despite its 25% success rate in the shootout.
No, the Rangers didn’t score, but when is the last time you saw a New York Rangers team dominate overtime like they did against the Lightning on Thursday? The whole period was played at even strength and the Rangers outshot the Lightning 6-1 while also hitting a post. Of course, the Rangers went on to lose in the shootout.
So what is my point? Of course the Rangers need to get as many points as possible, and losing the shootout doesn’t help that. So what does it help? In previous seasons the shootout was in our favor. The players new it. The fans knew it. The whole world knew it. Find a way to see the game through for 65 minutes and the Rangers, usually backed by the best shootout goaltender in the NHL, had a pretty high chance of coming away with the second point. But that’s not the case this season. The Rangers are losing more in the shootout than they are winning. No longer do they have that safety cushion. The Rangers now have to approach tied games aggressively late in the third period and during overtime; and that is the best thing for this team’s growth. If challenging this current group to be a better team means they had to sacrifice a few points in the first quarter of the season then so be it.