October 20, 2011
The Seven is an arbitrary list of randomly connected hockey subjects that will run every Thursday on Puck Daddy. Agree to disagree.
Let's begin by stating the obvious: The shootout is a glorified skills competition that has little-to-no relation to the previous 65 minutes of a team sport that preceded it.
That established, we can lay down our arms and agree that it can be enthralling and exhilarating to see the best offensive hockey players in their world ply their trade with open ice and only a goaltender to beat.
In other words: It's OK to loathe the shootout and mark-out on the occasional shootout attempt.
Here are The 7 Players We'd Pay To Watch in an NHL Shootout.
The strange thing about Duchene is that, like some other high-profile NHL players (Ovechkin being one of them), he's been quite terrible at converting in the shootout, going 2-for-13 coming into this season. However, he's 2-for-2 in 2011-12, and enthusiasm goes a long way when it comes to entertainment.
Kopitar is one of the most creative offensive players in the NHL, what with his Hail-Mary passes to teammates. The Forsbergian move above is part of his arsenal, but we'd pay to watch what else he could come up with. He's not automatic in the shootout -- 3-for-10 last season, 8-for-16 the season before it -- but that's forgivable when you've got Jarret "King of All Shootouts" Stoll on the roster.
Jokinen's fun for two reasons. First, because he's one of the best in the NHL in the skills competition since its inception; you see him in the shootout, it's like watching Mariano Rivera run out of the bullpen.
Second ... because of the stuff you can see in the clip above and goalies see in their waking nightmares.
YouTube has spoiled Omark for us, because we know what's he's capable of overseas and we've only seen a glimpse of it in North America. He's officially the Chow Yun Fat of shootout players (or John Woo, if you prefer).
The smarts in the crowd get amped when they know Omark's coming up. Twitter lights up about how it's channel-flipping time. He's electrifying ... even if he maybe pissed off this next guy a little bit with his flourish ...
3. Marty St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Besides two inches in height, a few years and righteous indignation about the other's shootout style, what separates St. Louis from Omark is star power.
Due respect to players like Linus and Jussi, but the skills competition is a place for famous players to do amazing things and then get on SportsCenter for it. St. Louis, more often than not, does this. He's a shifty, dynamic player in the shootout ... and also in the strip shootout.
Ribeiro isn't, shall we say, a universally adored player. But there's no denying that he's willing to try absolute carnival [expletive] in the shootout, and occasionally showboat about it.
It can be said, quite safely, that Ribeiro "gets" what the shootout's about. It can also be said that his attempts have been defined in the past as "filthy."
It doesn't matter what the percentages are. It doesn't matter the situation. You hear "Datsyuk" and "shootout" and you're tracking down that video as soon as the final buzzer sounds.
He's worth the price of admission anyway; the shootout's the cherry on top.