There’s a pretty cool little time-waster going around on social media these days that has to do with hockey. And I’m not talking about Twitter posts concerning the status of Mitch Marner’s contract stalemate with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This one is a lot more fun.
And it poses the following scenario: The best hockey player born on your birthday has to score a goal on a penalty shot to save your life. The goalie he’s facing is the starter of the Stanley Cup champs the year you graduated high school. Do you get to see tomorrow?
For me, that would be Pierre Mondou (Nov. 27) bearing down on Billy Smith (1981). I’m not sure if I see tomorrow, but I’d like to think that Mondou, who did not take a penalty shot throughout his career, would be good for a goal on Smith. I’d feel a lot better if that penalty shot were taken in the regular season and not the playoffs, because we all know how impenetrable Smith was when the games mattered most. But Mondou was certainly no slouch offensively. Of all the players taken in the 1975 draft, Mondou stands fifth in points with 456 and sixth in goals with 194. A big scorer in junior, Mondou had three 30-goal seasons during an eight-year career that was cut short by an eye injury.
I’ve got to hope that Mondou used some of his derring-do on that shot, coming down on Smith with the speed that made him one of the league’s premier penalty killers during his career. Then, I have to hope Smith comes out of his crease in an attempt to chop down Mondou, with Mondou using his smarts to read the play and easily deking Smith out and depositing the puck into the empty net before taking a two-hander across the legs.
So, thankfully, I get to live.
I canvassed other staff members at The Hockey News and, given that historically penalty shots have favored goalies over shooters, here are the verdicts. Debate amongst yourselves whether they show up for work tomorrow. It’s a Friday in the summer, so probably not, so let’s go with Monday instead:
Jason Kay (Editor-in-Chief): Kyle Okposo vs. Grant Fuhr
Well, Boss, it was nice knowing you. Okposo is a decent offensive player who has tailed off in the past couple of seasons after a serious ailment that was brought on by a concussion, but probably not good enough to beat one of the best money goalies in the history of the game. Okposo has been stopped on both penalty shots he’s taken during his NHL career and is 0-for-1 in shootout attempts.
Verdict: JK is not OK.
Edward Fraser (Managing Editor): Evgeny Kuznetsov vs. Patrick Roy
This is a tough one. Kuznetsov has some of the best one-on-one skills in the league today, but we’re talking about Patrick Freakin’ Roy here. Again, we’d feel a lot better about Ed’s chances in a nothing game on a Wednesday night in February than we would in a crucial game. Kuznetsov has failed to score on the only penalty shot in his career, but is 3-for-5 in shootouts, so that puts him at 50 percent overall.
Verdict: Freshen up your resume for the big chair, Ed, but you might not need it.
Brian Costello (Senior Editor): Marcel Dionne vs. Billy Smith
Another intriguing matchup that is probably a toss-up. But come on, you’ve got to give it to the sixth-highest scorer in NHL history, no? Dionne went 1-for-2 on penalty shots during his career, but we’d have to think he’d be able to overpower Smith. Again, we’ll take this one during the regular season and not the playoffs because Smith is one of the best post-season goalies of all-time and Dionne was a perennial underachiever in the playoffs.
Verdict: Brian gets to live for his next lawn bowling game.
Sam McCaig (Features Editor): Mike Bossy vs. Bill Ranford
Another mismatch in favor of the shooter. Surprisingly, Mike Bossy was never awarded a penalty shot during his career, but we’d have to think he’d be able to come down and rip one of his patented wrist shots over Ranford’s shoulder. Nine 50-goal seasons in 10 years? We’re pretty sure Bossy’s good for one on a penalty shot.
Verdict: Long live Sam McCaig.
Matt Larkin (Senior Writer): Yanni Gourde on Dominik Hasek
Wow, that’s a tough draw. As the president and founder of the Yanni Gourde Fan Club, your trusty correspondent would never sell this scrappy little guy short. But let’s face it folks, some of the best players in NHL history couldn’t score against Hasek in the shootout in the 1998 Winter Olympics. Of course, the greatest goalscorer in the history of the game was nailed to the bench, but that’s a rant for another day.
Verdict: My workload just got that much heavier. Nice knowing you, pal.
Ryan Kennedy (Senior Writer): Willie O’Ree vs. Chris Osgood
Brock Nelson also shares Ryan’s birthday, but he went with O’Ree, who didn’t have much of a chance to establish himself as an offensive player during his NHL career. But he was a pretty good offensive player in the minors and we’re thinking he’d make the most of his opportunity on the big stage.
Verdict: Ryan continues to walk among us.
Jared Clinton (Web Editor): Artemi Panarin vs. Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Well, you have an incredibly gifted shooter and one of the smartest offensive players of his generation against the Michelin Man. We’ve got to go with Panarin on this one. He’s 2-for-3 in shootouts over the course of his career and he has a unique ability to sell one move and make another.
Verdict: THN’s website is safe.
Shea Berencsi (Art Director): Jiri Slegr vs. Ed Belfour
Tough draw for Shea. Slegr scored one goal roughly every 10 games and Belfour was, well, Belfour.
Verdict: You were such a nice kid and hard worker.
Steven Ellis (Digital Content Producer): Zach Werenski vs. Jonathan Quick
It’s really tough for a defenseman, even one as talented as Werenski, to score on a penalty shot because it’s not as though it’s a skill they practice much. Quick has certainly seen better days as an NHLer and he’s not exactly a wizard in shootouts – giving up six goals on 13 shots during his career. We’re just going on a hunch here but…
Verdict: So tragic to lose you at such a young age.
Samantha Fortomaris (Designer): Howie Morenz vs. Antti Niemi
This one is probably a little closer than you might expect. For whatever reason, Finnish shooters and goalies are both great in shootouts and Niemi is no exception. He’s stopped all seven shots he’s faced in his career in the skills competition. Morenz, though, is the NHL’s first true superstar and his speed and skill were legendary. We’re betting he’d be by Niemi and have the puck in the net before Niemi even had time to set up.
Verdict: By design, you live.
Graeme Roustan (Chairman and Publisher): Bill Flett vs. Ken Dryden
Yikes. ‘The Cowboy’ scored a career-high 43 goals in 1972-73, Dryden’s second full season with the Canadiens. So perhaps if it were taking place in that season, Flett would have had a chance. But overall, we don’t like his chances.
Verdict: I’m not in your will by any chance, am I?
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