How many straight coin flips can you lose?
Granted, shootouts can go either way in a hurry. But the Albany Devils have lost four shootouts in their last seven games, and done it in spectacular fashion.
While the Albany goalies have turned back 13 of 20 shootout shots in that time, the Devils have converted only three of their own. They have lost each of the four shootouts by one goal (1-0, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1).
“You can’t put it on the goaltenders,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I think we’ve scored three goals in four shootouts. Yeah, we’re going to continue to work on it. They have to find a way to win a couple of these.”
The three conversions have come from Matt Anderson, Joe Whitney and Mattias Tedenby.
“We’ve got good players going in the shootouts,” Whitney said. “It seems like any given night, one guy scores and a couple other guys don’t. Then the next time, another guy scores and the other guys don’t. We’ll just stick with it. It’s kind of a coin toss, but we’ll start getting that extra point sooner than later.”
Kowalsky has tried a number of different shootout lineups. Bobby Butler is the only player to have skated through each of the four.
Of the players who have been through three of the shootouts, only Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique, two guys who would be with New Jersey right now if the NHL had its act together, are without shootout goals.
“Shootouts, to me, are kind of like a lottery,” Jacob Josefson said. “Of course, we’ve been in four shootouts and haven’t come out with a victory. Maybe we need to practice a little bit on them.”
At the end of Wednesday’s skate, the Devils got a little practice with the shootout. Goalies Jeff Frazee and Keith Kinkaid traded off every five shots for the first 20 players, then halfway through the final six.
Four players beat them. Those four skated a second round and each was denied.
After the final save, Frazee and Kinkaid high-fived, Frazee shouting, “We won!”
For the record, the four players who successfully converted their shootout tries in the practice included Whitney ... and three defensemen (Eric Gelinas, Corbin McPherson and Raman Hrabarenka).
And how many people would moan and groan and call for Kowalsky’s job if, next time the Devils are in a shootout, he sent out three defensemen?
“No matter what, people will question my decision,” he said. “It’s more than just guessing. You’re not real encouraged about putting three defensemen in there, but we see more than a lot of people do. You know what? Sometimes you do see some things from some guys that you might not know. We’ve got a lot of guys in here that I haven’t seen. That’s why I tell them, when we do that, take it seriously. We may see some surprises.”