While last night’s loss was easier to stomach than some earlier in the season, it was discouraging to see the Los Angeles Kings falter so quickly in the shootout after watching them work hard for 65 minutes which included them tying the game three times. It was never easy to see Jonathan Quick crack under the pressure in the extra frame as last time he participated in the shootout, he allowed three goals on all three shots he faced nor was it settling to see Jonathan Bernier do the same thing last night. But before we fly off the handle, let’s remember that it’s only a shootout.
Despite Los Angeles’ loss last night, I’m not inclined to go into a big song and dance on how the NHL should abolish the shootout. Let’s face it: I was loving the shootout a couple of years ago when the Kings (most notably Quick and Jarret Stoll) dominated in the extra frame. So, how is it fair that I speak ill of the shootout just when the Kings are struggling with it? It’s not. All I can say is that I’m very thankful that the NHL puts the shootout in their rearview mirror when the playoffs start. Can you imagine a best-of-seven series being determined by a penalty shot?
If there’s a silver lining from last night’s end result, it’s that the Kings picked up a regulation point. Sure, they would’ve been much better with a win but at this time of the year, every point is crucial even if it means falling short in a hard-fought contest.
If there’s anything I can change about the shootout, it’s one thing: let teams use the same player multiple times. While it hasn’t happened yet, it is very likely that two teams will be deadlocked for so long that they will just run out of players to use. Then what? Will the home team give their backup goalie a regular stick? Maybe Jimmy the towel boy will get a sniff at the action or hey, maybe one of the coaches will spot a guy in the crowd eating a bag of Rold Gold and say, “You with the pretzels, get in there!” ala Jason Alexander’s famous commercial from the mid-1990’s.
Sure, Los Angeles has been downright lousy in the shootouts but I think we can all agree with how little that matters. Not to sound arrogant but as defending champions, I’m fairly certain that the Kings have biggest fish to fry then worrying about a situation that only arises when they’re tied after 65 minutes of play. In their defense, the Kings have only participated in the shootout four times this year.
If shootouts were part of playoff hockey, then I’d be nervous (even a bit scared) for the Los Angeles Kings. But that’s not the case so why worry about it? The Kings are too busy trying to solidify a playoff spot and even if they get to a shootout, that gets them one step closer to punching their ticket for the post-season.
The Los Angeles Kings and their fans would certainly rather see their team win in the shootout a little more time but I’d also like my own Hawaiian island. As great as that would be however, I’m okay without it and I’m sure the Kings and their fans will be okay without that extra point as well.