The shootout was implemented following the 2004-05 lockout so that games would no longer end in ties. But since its inception, the shootout has been one of the most hotly debated topics among NHL fans and media. Shootout critics feel that the shootout decides games via an individual skills competition rather than through team play.That may be so, but does the shootout really have an impact on the season?
At the end of every year NHLShootouts.com posts “What if” scenarios that show how different the standings would have been if the shootout didn’t exist. The logic is simple: before the shootout was implemented any game that wasn’t decided in an overtime period simply ended in a tie. So to see how teams would have finished in pre-shootout days, any extra points that teams have earned from shootout wins are subtracted from the their total. It’s still early in the season, but already we can see that the shootout is having an impact in the Western Conference.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference standings would look without shootouts:
Not much difference, but here’s a look at the crowded Western Conference:
It seems likely that the difference between playoff teams and non-playoff teams in the Western Conference will come down to just a few point, so the shootout might be more important in the second half of the 2010-11 season than ever before.
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