Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville assumed before the compact 2013 season began that shootouts would be a decisive factor in the standings come the playoffs.
So far, the Blackhawks have failed in that area. They’ve squandered two possible points this season as they’ve gone 0- for-2 in shootouts through eight games.
The Minnesota Wild scored two shootout goals to the Blackhawks’ one on Wednesday, and the Vancouver Canucks scored once to the Blackhawks’ none on Friday. The Blackhawks have scored one shootout goal on seven shots this season.
It’s something Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he knows his team has to improve on after Friday’s defeat.
“Got to score,” said Quenneville, whose team was 7-7 in shootouts last season and 6-5 in 2010-11. “We’ll talk about it. We’ll look at it. Hopefully we get patience and being comfortable when that opportunity rises, especially when you got a chance to close.”
Scoring shootout goals has been somewhat of an issue for the Blackhawks in recent seasons. They have received consistent production from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but everyone else has been shaky.
Kane and Toews have combined for 39 shootout goals over the past five seasons. Toews has scored the lone shootout goal this season. The rest of the Blackhawks have accounted for 16 shootout goals.
Quenneville has often turned to Patrick Sharp along with Kane and Toews, but Sharp hasn’t lit the lamp as consistently as the duo. Sharp has five shootout goals on 31 opportunities in the past five seasons. He’s for 0-for-2 in 2013.
When the Blackhawks needed a fourth skater in Friday’s shootout, defenseman Nick Leddy got the call. Leddy had scored on his lone shootout chance with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL during the NHL lockout. On Friday, his shot to the right side was caught by Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo to end the game.
“He’s been doing it,” Quenneville explained of his decision to use Leddy in the shootout. “He’s been good at it whenever we go in our games and down in Rockford. He’s deserving. He’s familiar with it as well.
“I think we’ve been looking for guys to break through in that area. I think the last couple years it’s been a sore spot. I think he deserved a chance and had a chance.”
Quenneville didn’t say he would try anyone else in future shootouts, but Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa could be candidates if he did. Stalberg scored two shootout goals for the Blackhawks in the 2010-2011 season, and Hossa is 12- for-40 in shootouts in his career. Hossa is 2-for-11 as a Blackhawk and hasn’t scored one since the 2009-10 season.