Our feelings about the shootout as an inferior mechanism to determine victory are well-established. But we continue to discover new and exciting ways for it to let us down. Take last night's incredible shootout tally from Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings against Marty Turco of the Dallas Stars in the Kings' 1-0 win: Close to a triple-deke in front of the crease before backhanding the puck into an open net. It's awesome ...
... if also a little familiar. Daryl "Razor" Reaugh is one of the best color commentators in hockey, and he proved that again in the clip by immediately recalling some similarity to this Mike Ribeiro attempt against the Kings back in November -- one that certainly caused controversy between the teams at the time.
It was Kopitar's first shootout attempt against the Stars since that Ribeiro goal. Was his move an intentional response, months later? Tough to say, as the LA Times didn't explore that angle and the Dallas media understandably was more concerned with the Stars' near-death in the postseason race.
This comes back to the shootout: The NHL's blatant attempt to put the spotlight on individual performance just doesn't go far enough for entertainment value. Are there shootout rivalries between players like Kopitar and Ribeiro? Do players catalogue each others' shootout moves so they can better them down the line? If so, then exploit that. The shootout is so under-analyzed and ignored editorially, cynics like us can't help but wonder if those who play the game and those who cover it aren't all a little embarrassed by the regular season-only gimmick.
The exploitation factor is missing in the shootout. If we're going to end regular season games with a carnival trick, then go all the way. Take the helmets off. Skate a camera behind them like in the all-star game. Open up the rule book to allow more creativity in the skills competition. Beyond killing off tie games, the shootout exists for only one other purpose: As a highlight-generating entertainment vehicle. To that end, we can't help but feel there's still squandered potential. So we put it to you, dear readers:
1. Grade Anze Kopitar's shootout move from last night's Kings/Stars game.
2. Are you happy with the current entertainment value of the shootout; and if not, how would you improve it?