The New Jersey Devils would still be in the playoff race if they were just league-average when it came to the shootout. But after an 0-for-12 season, the extra points just didn’t come.
With age comes experience. With experience comes wisdom. With wisdom comes being lousy in the shootout.
That’s how it unfolded this season for the New Jersey Devils, the oldest team in the NHL. If the Devils weren’t the King of Suck when it comes to the shootout, they’d probably be in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
New Jersey lost all 12 games it played in the shootout. The Devils scored on just three of 43 shootout attempts for a shooting percentage of just 7.0. If the Devils were just league average in the shootout, they’d still be battling Detroit and Columbus for one of two wildcard playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Unless New Jersey goes shootout crazy in the final two games of the season, it will go down as the worst team ever since the inception of the 1-on-1 competition in 2005-06. Holding that distinction for now is the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes, who were 0-5 with just one goal in 17 chances (5.9 percent shooting percentage). The Washington Capitals were 1-11 that season with a 12.5 percent shooting percentage.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were also 0-5 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13.
Jaromir Jagr (1-for-5), Reid Boucher (1-for-2) and Jacob Josefson (1-for-1) were the only Devils to connect in a shootout this season. Patrik Elias was blanked on eight attempts, Travis Zajac six chances, Adam Henrique and Ryane Clowe five each and Damien Brunner four times.
It wasn’t always bad for the Devils when it came to the shootout. In the first seven years of the post-overtime competition, New Jersey had a winning record each season (54-29 overall). But the Devils slipped to 2-7 last season before this year’s 0-12. Overall, New Jersey still has an all-time winning shootout record of 56-48.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer, on the other hand, has had a losing record five of his six seasons in the league – three with Florida and two of the past three with New Jersey. His career shootout record is a dismal 27-48.
The St. Louis Blues led the way with nine wins in 12 shootouts and a 48.8 shooting percentage this season (21 goals in 43 attempts). The best one-season team shooting percentage in shootouts was 75 percent by the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. In a full season, the all-time high was 58.3 percent by San Jose in 2006-07.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN