The Flyers played a boring game last night against the Florida Panthers. It was a win, in a shootout no less (thanks to an absolute ankle-breaking, knee buckling move by Claude Giroux), but I just never got into it. I don’t know if it’s because the Panthers are normally bad and I just expect the Flyers to beat them but they’re actually good this year or what.
That aside, the game eventually played through a scoreless overtime and we entered the dreaded Bettman shootout. Yeah.
The Flyers aren’t a good team in shootouts. Entering last night, they had lost all three shootouts they had been in, and they were something like 3-10 going back through the 2010-11 season. For a team as offensively talented as the Flyers, it seemed odd.
Now, I have DirecTV Center Ice, and as great as it is, I can rarely watch the CSN Philly feeds of the games, which means I generally have to suffer through the opposing team’s announcers. Last night was no exception. After the five minutes of four-on-four overtime concluded, the Florida commentators were discussing just how bad the Flyers are in shootouts, and they brought up an interesting point.
Apparently, coach Peter Laviolette has stated, and I’m paraphrasing, that they simply do not practice the shootout, as there are more important things that the practice time needs to go to. This baffled me. I realize that once the game gets to a shootout, you’ve already been guaranteed one point, but winning hockey games is what matters. That consolation “Bettman Point” is nice, but every point counts. Why not practice, improve, and get two points?
The announcers continued, and asked the rhetorical question, “So, the Flyers are going to make the playoffs, right?” The answer was yes. “Well, there are no shootouts in the postseason.”
So very true. If that is indeed Laviolette’s reasoning, then I definitely understand it. What would serve the team better: Spending valuable practice time on the shootout, which will occur a dozen or so times a year, or spending that time practicing and improving on things that will have an impact on the outcome of literally every single game?
Sure, maybe late in the year the Flyers will be right on the cusp of moving up or falling down a seed that could dictate home ice advantage in the playoffs, and those points they missed out on by not performing well in shootouts could come back to bite them. Then again, maybe that extra penalty kill or powerplay practice they would have missed out on by spending time improving in shootouts would have had meant that games that were won were instead lost due to lack of practice on those particular facets of the game.
It’s definitely and interesting thought, but I have to say that I agree with Laviolette. Winning the Atlantic Division, earning that Prince of Wales Trophy, and taking home ice would be nice, but it’s not the end game; winning a Stanley Cup is.
And you don’t do that in shootouts.