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How NHL Western Conference was won: In a shootout, apparently

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Do you know how many shootouts there have been in the Eastern Conference thus far during the 2013 NHL regular season?

Three.

No, seriously, that’s it: Three shootouts, involving the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets. That’s out of nine overtime games in the Eastern Conference through Sunday night, out of 58 total games.

Do you know how many shootouts there have been in the Western Conference?

Fifteen.

That’s 15 shootouts in 60 games through Sunday night, as 20 games in total have advanced past the first three periods.

Both Jeff Patterson, Team 1040 reporter covering the Vancouver Canucks, and the incomparable Daryl “Razor” Reaugh noted that the Western Conference is far out-pacing the East when it comes to the shootout and overtime games in general.

Five of the Blackhawks’ nine games went to OT. Five of the Nashville Predators’ eight games have, all to the shootout. Half of the Edmonton Oilers’ eight games have gone to OT, where they’ve won three times.

Does this indicate anything about the truncated 48-game season?

Sorta. But speaks more to the type of coaches we have in the West, who are going to ensure the charity point first and then win the game.

Of the top 12 teams in total overtime games last season, seven were in the Western Conference. We’re seeing the same culprits from year to year: Chicago, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Then again, sometimes it’s just how the puck bounces. The Florida Panthers played 25 overtime games last season in winning the Southeast, which was tops in the NHL (along with their 18 charity points). This season, with a goal differential of minus-10, they’ve yet to play an OT game.

Ditto the Tampa Bay Lightning, who appeared in 24 OT games last season. Their goal differential is plus-18 through eight games; surprise, surprise, they’ve yet to appear in overtime in 2013. (They’ve won five games by three or more goals. Which is pretty darn good.)

Personally, we were hoping that the truncated season would put an emphasis on regulation victories and prevent overtime and shootout appearances. But in the Western Conference, it’s conservative point assurance over keeping your foe from gaining anything in the standings. Will the trend continue?

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