Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
In an era of three-point games, every point becomes more vital as teams try to distance themselves from each other in the standings. The players listed below have showcased their ability for clutch performances when the games have been on the line in shootouts.
Tim Thomas, G, Boston Bruins: While Thomas’s level of play has been inconsistent at best in the second half of the season, he’s one of the primary factors in the Bruin’s shootout success this year. The 37-year-old has participated in five shootouts this season and has been stellar, going 5-0. He’s only allowed one goal on 16 shots faced and is fifth in wins for goaltenders in the shootout. While he hasn’t played in as many shootouts as some other NHL goaltenders this season, Thomas’s 0.938 save percentage puts him atop the league in that category. Thomas’s stellar shootout record is a big reason why the Bruins remain ahead of the Senators in the Northeast Division.
Daniel Alfredsson, RW, Ottawa Senators: At 39-years-old, Alfredsson has shown no signs of slowing down after coming off an injury plagued season in 2010-11. This year, Alfredsson has not only been a key contributor during regulation time, but he’s been the Senators clutch performer in the shootout. Up until last night’s contest with the Canadiens Alfredsson has been perfect, going 5/5 in shootouts this season. However, only one of his goals has been a game decider. In his career, he has 16 goals in 42 shot attempts.
Tyler Seguin, C, Boston Bruins: One of the leagues breakout players this season has not only been a factor in every game, but has become a significant asset in the shootout for the Bruins. The 20-year-old Seguin has only scored four goals on nine attempts for a shooting percentage of 44.4%, but all of his goals have been game-deciding goals. His four goals combined with the play of netminder Thomas, have attributed to the Bruins 7-2 record in shootouts this season.
Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa Sabres: Currently sidelined with injury, Anderson has been a key component for the Senators when he’s been in the lineup. The club has a 5-4 record this season in the shootout, and the win column is largely due to the play of the 30-year-old goaltender. Anderson has a 5-1 record in the shootout this season and is 4-0 in shootouts on the road. With the Senators going 0-2 in their last two games due to the shootout, it’s even more indicative of how important those extra points are in the standings.
Brad Boyes, RW, Buffalo Sabres: While the Sabres haven’t been great in the shootout this season, going 7-5, they may need the expertise of Boyes down the stretch to steal some vital points. The 29-year-old Boyes has a career shooting percentage of 46.8% in the shootout, while this season he’s been the Sabres most productive player in that area, scoring on 5 of 10 attempts. While his numbers aren’t jaw dropping, the need for the Sabres to accumulate points is imperative. They sit in ninth spot, three points behind the eighth place Washington Capitals.
Northeast Division Notes
Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron was absent from practice for maintenance purposes on Wednesday. The Bruins return to action tonight with a game against the Florida Panthers. The club is 4-6-0 in their last 10 games. With the Ottawa Senators dropping their last two games in a shootout, the Bruins remain one point ahead of them for second in the Eastern Conference.
Buffalo Sabres: Rookie forward Marcus Foligno scored two goals vs. the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. He followed his first goal with a ‘Foligno Leap’ to celebrate. Rookie defenseman Brayden McNabb was recalled on an emergency basis from Rochester (AHL) to replace the suspended Tyler Myers. Andrej Sekera, who has been out with pneumonia, is hopeful for a weekend return. Matt Ellis (knee) and Nathan Gerbe (upper body) were also scratches in the game. Cody McCormick returned to the lineup after missing 16 games with a concussion.
Montreal Canadiens: Tomas Kaberle was absent vs. the Senators as his girlfriend was giving birth. In his place, the Canadiens recalled Frédéric St-Denis from Hamilton (AHL). Alexei Emelin (upper boy) was also a scratch in the contest. Tomas Plekanec arrived late to the arena, missing warm-ups due to family reasons, but was ready for puck drop. It was Andrei Markov’s first game back in Montreal after his return from injury. The Canadiens are 3-0-1 in their last four games.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson scored his 70th point of the season vs. the Canadiens on Wednesday. His 19th goal of the season ties him with Steve Duchesne for a single-season record for goals by a Senators’ defenseman. The Senators announced the signing of forward Cole Schneider to a two-year entry level deal on Wednesday. He’s expected to report to Binghamton (AHL). The 21-year-old set single-season records for the Connecticut Huskies with 23 goals and 45 points. Spezza missed the clubs morning skate on Wednesday, but played against the Canadiens. His wife is expecting the birth of their baby soon. Dropping yesterday’s game against the Canadiens, the Senators are 1-2-1 vs. the Canadiens this year.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs continue their Florida road trip with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. The Maple Leafs hold a 2-0 edge in the season series between the two clubs. Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start given he had the night off on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs recent 0-5 record has them barely holding onto the 12th position with 68 points. The three teams behind the Maple Leafs all have 67 points.