When it comes to close games, a coach has to think ahead to the shootout that could be played. Of course, a coach like Gretzky would rather win on hard work during regulation or overtime—but to contend in the Western Conference, every point counts.
Wayne Gretzky and the Coyotes staff will have plenty of players willing to go on the shootout—but which ones have the skill to get the tap on the shoulder every night?
Starting in goal, Ilya Bryzgalov is a very good shootout goalie. The Yotes were 5-6 in the shootout this past season. Bryzgalov and the rest of the Coyotes goaltenders gave up 12 goals in the shootout this past year. With a full year of Bryzgalov, that number will certainly go down.
On the scoring side of things, it will be different. Radim Vrbata was the go-to guy for Gretzky, as his quick forehand-to-backhander gave goalies nightmares, as he went five for eight during the season. But who will replace him?
Certainly, American sniper Peter Mueller will get his chances after going three for 10 in 2007-08. All three of those goals were decisive. Kyle Turris participated in the shootout once last year, and used his unbelievable wrist shot to beat Jonas Hiller of the Ducks. He will get a shot in future shootouts.
Martin Hanzal is a skilled player and will have a couple of chances. The young guys like Mikkel Boedker, Enver Lisin, and Viktor Tikhonov will also get their shots.
Of course, they have to make the team first. Veteran players like Shane Doan and Olli Jokinen will certainly be at the top of the list when Gretzky is choosing his shooters.
The Coyotes will have a decent shootout team this year—but in a tough conference, shootouts will definitely test this team.