If you aren’t aware, things are a little different this season. Games were canceled, players changed teams, entire defensive corps were injured. The Red Wings’ shootout lineup was no exception.
Please hold for the obligatory Damien Brunner shootout winner. (I recommend watching it with the sound down so you aren’t exposed to any excess Pierre McGuire. That stuff is dangerous):
Last year the order was simple:
1. Pavel Datsyuk
2. Jiri Hudler
3. Todd Bertuzzi
And if necessary:
4. Valtteri Filppula
5. Henrik Zetterberg
Datsyuk is back (5-for-12, 41.6% in the past year and a game) and Bertuzzi will be (5-for-10, 50%, last year), but Jiri Hudler, in all his 3-for-12 glory, isn’t.
Do the Red Wings miss Jiri Hudler? From a stylistic standpoint, maybe. Hudler was a shooter. More often that not, Hudler was going to fire a shot. With Datsyuk a kind of half-shooter, half-deker and Bertuzzi a more strict deker, at the very least Hudler was a different look.
Does that make a difference when you’re handing off the torch to two guys who, in four attempts each have favored the deke? Probably not. The point is to score, not be different, and most of the time Hudler put his shot into the goalie’s gut anyway.
The real question isn’t who will replace Hudler’s production, (there’s plenty of guys on the team that can go 3-for-12) it’s how will the order differ?
In the first shootout of the season on Monday against Columbus, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock seemed content to just move everybody in his rotation up a spot of two from previous the season: Datsyuk was followed by Filppula and Zetterberg. (I’m assuming Bertuzzi would have been included if had he been available.)
It didn’t work out so hot. Datsyuk hit the crossbar (no shame there) and Filppula and Zetterberg had borderline embarrassing attempts.
Datsyuk is a lock to continue to go first, but when Bertuzzi comes back, does he jump up a spot to No. 2? What say you?
I say no.
Bertuzzi is an assassin. He finishes things. And he’s good at it. My guess is Filppula jumps to No. 2, does the same move he does just about every time and eventually loses the job to Zetterberg.
But what about ‘Oh Em Gee’ Brunner? (I’ll stop asking myself questions now.)
Well Brunner’s biggest problem might have been the five-day training camp. I imagine there wasn’t much time for Babcock to have his team work on shootout drills. He couldn’t get any confidence in Brunner before the season, hence him shooting fourth on Monday.
It’ll probably take a couple of shootouts before the coaches have any faith that he’ll be a consistent shootout scorer. Let’s face it. He can’t pull the backhand-drag across-the-goalie’s body move every time. Speaking of that move, let’s watch it one more time.
Brunner might turn into that one Stars guy I don’t really remember that well who was really good at shootouts when the tiebreaker first came into the league and I don’t really want to look up because it’s not worth the four seconds of effort. (At least I think he was on the Stars.) But he’s going to need some extra rounds to make that happen.
In the meantime, everybody enjoy not watching Jiri Hudler in a shootout.
(By the way, the Shootout Book tab has been updated. Brunner doesn’t get an entry until he shoots for a second time.)