Despite struggles, Flyers don't stress shootouts


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Flyers havent won a shootout all season. Three tries, three losses.

They are the worst team at the shootout with a 19-37 lifetime record.

Some teams, like Pittsburgh, which is among the best in the NHL (5-2), practice it regularly.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette hasnt had a lot of practice time in either December or January because of the schedule.

When he does get practice time, he usually focuses on aspects of play that are more tangible and reoccurring, such as the power play.

In case you missed it, the Flyers power play is now fourth-best in the NHL at 20.2 percent, the highest its been since Dec. 10, when Joey Mullens units were third-overall (20.4 percent).

Laviolette prioritizes his practices, and the shootout doesnt carry a lot of clout with him, especially since its only used during the regular season.

Still, you could make the case on pure talent alone that the Flyers should be better at the shootout than they are.

Of course, their goalies cant seem to make a save during it, either. The Flyers last shootout save came in November against New Jersey with Sergei Bobrovsky in net.

Ilya Bryzgalov, the loser during Sundays 6-5 thriller against Boston, hates the shootout.
He says its easier to face a breakaway as part of a game in progress rather than stand around waiting for a guy lining up at center ice to bear down on you.

When you win, you prefer shootout, he said. When you lose, you prefer ties.

Bryzgalov said when he was in Phoenix, the Coyotes practiced shootouts once a week. Similar to the Flyers, who often run breakaway drills without calling them shootouts.

Would more practice help?

Maybe, Bryzgalov said. No matter how you practice, sometimes, players beat you with a move. They have a couple of moves they work in practice every day.

Laviolette reiterated four times on Monday that you have to pick and choose what you spend your time on during practice and shootouts are not at the top of that short list, given the little practice time the Flyers have had.

Weve been really strong in practicing the power play as much as we can, he said. You pick and choose where you go with it. Im sure were going to get power plays through the course of the game. You cant say for sure youre going to get shootouts.

Laviolette said hed like to practice it more, but hes strapped for time. He also said a lot of times, his goalies get the work, but not the shooters themselves.

Hockey is not like the NFL where a team has a whole week of practices to take one aspect out of its game plan and devote significant time on it.

They can go through a list, its regimented, which is great, Laviolette said of football. We just dont have that luxury.

General manager Paul Holmgren was asked about the shootout and the Flyers dismal showing there.

Do I like shootouts? No, Holmgren said. I think theyre great for the fans. At some point, we have to end the game and reward an extra point for the shootout. Theres a reason why we dont have them in the playoffs.

Holmgren wasnt aware that the Flyers were the leagues worst at shootouts since the lockout.

Sometimes things dont add up, he said. Its not like we cant score. Its not like our goalies are terrible.

For some reason, it just doesnt work out in the shootouts for us. Its like anything else. You look to get better at it.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at

Contact Us