Los Angeles Hockey: Wojtek Wolski
March, 25, 2011
By Dan Arritt | ESPNLosAngeles.com
In just its sixth season of existence, the NHL shootout doesn’t have enough historical data to distinguish an all-time great shooter from a good one, or a goalkeeper who specializes in one-on-one competition vs. one who's just on a lucky streak.
But the Kings have two players who are certainly on their way to establishing new watermarks for a single season.
Jarret Stoll scored his eighth goal in his ninth shootout opportunity this season, leading the Kings to a 4-3 victory Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center, and goalkeeper Jonathan Quick improved to 9-0 in shootouts this season after letting just one of four slip by.
Their success is a big reason why the Kings sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
"We're in a position where every point means a lot," Quick said.
According to NHL records, Stoll is on pace for the highest regular season shooting percentage in the shootout, while Quick still has a little more work to do.
Mathieu Garon, now a goalkeeper for the Columbus Blue Jackets, went 10-0 for Edmonton in 2007-08, allowing just two goals on 32 attempts. Half his victories came on the road, where he stopped all 14 shots. Quick, by comparison, has stopped 34-of-41 shootout attempts (.829). Not stellar, but certainly good enough.
Quick is quick to credit the shooters for his perfect record. There’s no question that Stoll’s success has benefited Quick.
"We've got guys scoring goals," Quick said. "I'm just trying to hold up my end."
Stoll came into the season just 4-for-13 on shootouts but is nearly perfect this season. His only misfire came Nov. 20 in Boston, when the first 11 shooters failed to score before Michal Handzus won it for the Kings, 4-3.
Since then, Stoll has converted seven straight.
He currently has the all-time best percentage (88.9) of any player with four or more attempts in a season. Petteri Nummelin of Minnesota made six out of seven (85.7) in 2006-07, and Wojtek Wolski of Colorado shot 10-for-12 (83.3) in 2008-09. A year ago, Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh made eight of 10 attempts.
Interestingly, Dan Boyle of the Sharks, who used a slow-motion move to beat Quick for the only shootout goal by San Jose, improved to three-for-three on the season. No player has ever finished four-for-four or better.
On the other end of the spectrum, Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay, who leads the NHL with 43 goals this season, has missed all seven of his shootout attempts, the most attempts without a goal by any player in the league.