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Islanders desperately need to sort out the shootout problem

Vegas Golden Knights v New York Islanders
Vegas Golden Knights v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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We all feel like the New York Islanders have issues when it comes to the shootout. It's why when retweeted this video of a floorball player hitting possibly the worst shootout attempt in the sport with the caption: "Feels like an Isles shootout attempt" 329 people (so far) hit the like button.

But I retweeted that without actually knowing the Islanders shootout record. I figured it wasn't good. How could it? The Isles just don't seem to have any creativity when it comes to the skills competition and at least anecdotally. So when I decided to look I didn't know what to expect.

I thought the data might shot the Isles were bad, but I wasn't it expecting it to be this bad.

New York Islanders struggle badly when it comes to the shootout

Since 2018-19 the Islanders have gone to the shootout 30 times. That's the most in the NHL. Vancouver and New Jersey are a close second with 29 games needing the shootout to decide the outcome.

While the Isles have the second most points taken from the shootout (43 points), their 13-17 record gives them the ninth-worst points percentage at .433. So while the Isles need the NHL's gimmick to end games on-time more often than any other NHL team, they fail to get the extra point most of the time.

So that fits the "they just don't win in the shootout" narrative. But it gets worse.

Since 2018-19 the Isles hold the worst shooting percentage in the shootout across the NHL. Over 112 attempts they've scored 25 times for a 22.3 shooting percentage.

For a team that so frequently heads to the extra frame, this is a big problem. The Isles have dropped 17 points because of the shootout through 2018-19 and six points just this season.

In 2021-22, the Isles have gone to the shootout seven times, winning the extra point only once giving them a league-worst 0.143 points percentage in the shootout.

Where is the issue for the Islanders?

So where's the issue for the Islanders? Where's the problem with the shootout? To try and answer that I looked at player and goalie data for this season. There's no sense in looking at what went wrong in 2018-19, a number of guys are no longer here anyways.

Looking at this year's results in the shootout the shooters could certainly do a lot better. Here are the most utilized players with goals/shots and shooting percentage:

Beauvillier: 1/7 (14.3%)
Barzal: 0/5 (0.0%)
Wahlstrom: 1/6 (20%)
Nelson: 0/6 (0.0%)
Dobson: 0/2 (0.0%)

That's a lot of zero's. So that's clearly a problem. Not getting a single goal from Barzal or even Brock Nelson who's had no problem scoring from open play is, again, a problem. You'd think going 1on1 with the keeper would be a feast for someone with Nelson's shooting talents, but that 0/6 says otherwise.

But look it's not all on the shooters. The goalies - at least one in specific - aren't really holding down the fort. Here's the data for the two Isles goalies in the shootout this season:

Varlamov: 3 goals against, 16 saves, 0.842SV% (17th best in the NHL)
Sorokin: 7 goals against, 3 saves, 0.300SV% (70th best in the NHL*)

*Of 71 keepers. Only Alex Nedelkjovic is worse with a 0.00SV% in the shootout.

So while the shooters aren't really hitting the target, Sorokin isn't really stopping the puck in the shootout either. Which wasn't the case just last year when Sorokin stopped 14 of 16 shootout attempts for a 0.875SV%, the 14th best SV% in the league that year.

Clearly, the problem in the shootout isn't isolated to just one area. The Isles are just all-around bad at the shootout.

Ideally, the Islanders reduce the number of times they go to the shootout next season. If they can't, hopefully, Sorokin can get back to that 2020-21 shootout form and that guys like Barzal and Nelson can start putting a few more pucks in the back of the net.

[All shootout data from NHL.com]

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