Whether you love it, hate it or couldn't care less, the shootout is in the NHL to stay.
Adapted after the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season, the shootout is held during the preseason and regular season when the game is still tied after 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime. In the shootout, players find themselves skating in all by themselves on the goalie doing whatever they can (within the rules) to steal two points.
Some players have become good at the shootout in the last six seasons, so I decided to make a slideshow to pick the best shootout specialist on every team.
In order to make a selection, I looked at shootout statistics from each team. I determined the representative for each team by overall number of goals scored, game-deciding goals scored, the percentage of game-deciding goals and the overall career percentage. In some instances, there were ties between players in more than one category, so narrowing it down could be challenging.
Also, this is not about the best shootout specialist in a team's history since the shootout. It is the best player that is currently on that team, even if they excelled in the shootout with another team.
If another player was considered for a certain team but didn't make the cut, I will recognize them, too. I hope you enjoy the slideshow, which includes videos of a good shootout goal from each player's career.
Selanne has 14 career shootout goals, all with Anaheim. He had back-to-back three-goal seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09. In 2009 and 2010, all of the goals he scored (five total) were game-winning goals.
Six of his goals were game-winners in the shootout, which comes out to nearly 43 percent of his total. Overall, his success rate in it is 41.7 percent rate.
Check out this goal from the 2008-09 season. Selanne races in on Marty Turco, who was then playing for the Dallas Stars. Turco is far out of his net as Selanne comes in, then the Finnish Flash shoots while Turco is still lying on his side.
Other Considerations: Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu
Bergeron has 11 goals in the shootout over his career, and four of them have helped the Bruins win the game. He has been successful on 46 percent of his attempts and had a career-high six goals in 2006-07 for a 54.6 percent conversion rate.
In this video, Bergeron calmly skates in on Brian Elliott of the Ottawa Senators without losing a step, then taps the goal in just under the red line. The puck slid under a sprawled-out Elliott, and Bergeron got the Bruins on the board in what had been a scoreless shootout. This goal is from the 2009-10 season.
Other Considerations: David Krejci
Before being traded to the Sabres last year, Boyes was phenomenal in the shootout for the St. Louis Blues. He led the team in shootout goals from 2007 through 2011, with at least five goals in four of those seasons. His career high was seven goals in the 2009-10 season.
He has 24 shootout goals for his career and has been successful on 51 percent of his attempts.
Check out this video, where Boyes comes in on Vesa Toskala. At first, he goes for Toskala's right, but changes directions on the stunned Maple Leafs goalie at the last minute and shoots into the open net.
Other Considerations: Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek
Last season, Tanguay led the Flames with 10 goals in the shootout. It was the second time he led Calgary in that category, as in 2006-07, he also tied with Jarome Iginla for the team lead with three goals.
He has 17 career shootout goals, nine of which were game-winners, for a 64.3 conversion rate. He has been successful about 45 percent of the time in shootouts.
Here, Tanguay carries the puck without slowing down and slips it under the pads of the Ottawa goaltender. I believe the goalie here is Pascal Leclaire, but I can't really make out the number, so any clarification would be appreciated.
While with the Dallas Stars, Jokinen led the team in shootout goals from 2006 through 2008, scoring 10 goals in 2005-06. He also had five goals in 2006-07.
Last year with the Canes, he was second on the team with two shootout goals, and he had four in the 2009-10 campaign. He has 25 shootout goals for his career, nine of which were game-winners (36 percent). He has succeeded on about 50 percent of his shootout attempts.
In this shootout, the Canes and the Minnesota Wild are tied at one goal apiece. Jokinen has no problem coming in on Nicklas Backstrom and putting the goal right on the top of the net while Backstrom was out of position.
Other considerations: Tuomo Ruutu
Toews is only in his fifth season in the league, but he has already proved to be a shootout specialist. He has led the Hawks in shootout goals in the last three seasons, including tallying eight in 2009-10. He already has 19 shootout goals, with seven being game-winners, and is successful about 54 percent of the time.
Against Ty Conklin of the Detroit Red Wings, Toews helps the Blackhawks take the shootout lead. He skates in without hesitation and then snaps the shot right behind Conklin. The video is from Toews' sophomore season in 2008-09.
Hejduk led the Avalanche in shootout goals in both 2010 (four) and 2011 (two). As of this writing, he has two shootout goals already this year. He had a career-high six goals in 2009 to tie for first on the team. Nine of his goals, or 45 percent of his 20 markers, have been game-winners.
Here, Hedjuk gets the Avs the game-winner when he shoots the puck over Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, who is down in a split when the shot is made.
Nash has led the Jackets in shootout goals in each of the last three seasons and has one goal in 2011-12 as of this writing. In 2010 and 2011, he had five goals each year. He had four goals in both 2008 and 2009.
Over his career, six of his 23 shootout goals (26 percent) have decided the game for Columbus. He is successful on 45 percent of his attempts.
In this video from 2009-10, Nash gives the Jackets a win at the expense of J.S. Giguere, who was playing for Anaheim at the time.
Ribiero has scored 20 shootout goals in his career. In 2009 and 2011, he had six goals to lead the team, and he already has one goal this year.
With six game-deciding goals, he helps the Stars win the game 30 percent of the time. He is successful on 55 percent of his shootout attempts.
In this game with the Los Angeles Kings, the shootout was tied when Ribiero came to center ice. Just when he looked like he was going to lose the puck, he held on to his stick with one hand and slipped it under Kings goalie Erik Ersberg.
Other considerations: Loui Eriksson
Arguably one of the best players in the world, Datsyuk has proved himself in the shootout, leading the Wings in shootout goals every year but once. His career high in goals was in 2010, when he had seven.
Of his 26 goals, nine are game-winners, or about 35 percent. He is successful in the shootout half the time, with a 48.3 percent scoring rate.
Here, the Red Wings are getting underway in a shootout with the Blackhawks. Datsyuk comes in on Antti Niemi in slow motion, then bats the puck in over Niemi's glove to get the Wings on the board first.
Hemsky had a strong campaign in the first year the shootout was used, scoring five goals in 2005-06. He led the Oilers in shootout goals from 2006 through 2008, including six goals in the 2007-08 season.
In 2009, he had two goals, but both of them helped the Oilers win the game. Seven of his 16 shootout goals, or almost 44 percent, are game-winners. He has success on about 35 percent of attempts.
Hemsky helped the Oilers to a win over the Stars with this shot. It's a clean, classic goal with no fancy moves, but it gets the job done.
Other considerations: Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff
Choosing a representative of the Panthers was tough, so I went with Stephen Weiss, the longest-tenured member of the team.
Although Weiss' shootout totals aren't as impressive, as he has six goals, four of his tallies were game-winners. He is successful on about 20 percent of his attempts.
In this video, the Panthers' shootout with the Washington Capitals is in the 11th round. Weiss puts the Panthers up with this goal on Olaf Kolzig.
Other considerations: Marcel Goc
Kopitar has led the Kings in shootout goals twice in his career. He had eight goals in 2009-10, with four of those being game-winners. Last year, he had three goals and two of them won the game for the Kings. Over his career, he has 21 shootout goals and eight game-winners.
He is successful on about 40 percent of his attempts.
In this video from last season, Kopitar uses one hand to wrap the puck behind Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
Other considerations: Jarrett Stoll, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson
Koivu has led the Wild in shootout goals three times in his career, scoring a career-high eight goals in 2006-07. He already has two goals this season and has been successful on both of his attempts.
Of his 25 career shootout goals, 10 of them (40 percent) are game-winners and he has been successful in about 51 percent of chances.
After the Wild missed their first attempt in this shootout from 2006-07, Koivu helps them get on the board.
Other considerations: Matt Cullen
Prior to coming to the Canadiens, Gionta was solid in the shootout with the New Jersey Devils. In the first year of the shootout, he had eight goals, with five of them being game-winners. He tied with Zach Parise for the team lead with seven goals in 2006-07.
He has 22 career shootout goals, and 10 of them are game-winners. He has been successful on about 44 percent of his attempts.
Here is a highlight of Gionta's from the 2006-07 season. This is the winning goal from a shootout with the Blackhawks.
Other considerations: Mike Cammalleri
Erat has 14 shootout goals on his career. Although he has only led the Preds twice in this category, 10 of his goals, or 71 percent, have been game-winners. He is successful in the shootout about 45 percent of the time.
Erat has scored at least two goals in every season there's been a shootout, with a career high of five goals in 2009-10. In 2006 and 2008, all of his goals were game-winners.
Here, Erat scores the only goal of the Predators' shootout with the Philadelphia Flyers to secure the victory. He starts out holding his stick with one hand, but manages to tap one in behind the Flyers goalie.
The video is fan-made, so apologies for the less-than-high quality.
In 2007-08, three of Parise's four shootout goals decided the game for the Devils. He had four goals again in 2008-09 and a career-high five goals in 2009-10.
After missing much of last season due to injury, Parise has come back strong this year. He already has two shootout goals on the season and has been successful on both his attempts. He has 23 career goals, with nine being game-winners, and has scored on about 52 percent of his chances.
Here, the Devils are taking on the New York Rangers. The Rangers have the lead in the shootout, but Parise hits the puck off the post and behind Henrik Lundqvist to tie things up.
Other considerations: Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk
Nielsen has led the Islanders in shootout goals for the last three seasons, not including this year, as the Isles do not have a shootout leader yet. In 2010 and 2011, he had five goals apiece. Four of his 10 combined goals were game-winners.
He has 14 shootout goals for his career, with five of them (36 percent) leading to the Isles winning the game. He is successful on about 70 percent of his chances.
Nielsen challenges Cam Ward of the Hurricanes in this video and does not slow down even when approaching the net. It helped the Islanders take a 2-0 lead in the shootout.
Christensen found shootout success while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, as he has eight goals in the 2006-07 season. He also put up five goals before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007-08 season, then added a game-winner with Atlanta to bring his total to six.
Both of his goals in 2008-09 were game-deciding goals, and he posted five goals with the Rangers last year. Of his 23 goals, 11 (about 48 percent) have won the game for his various teams and he is successful on nearly 56 percent of his chances.
Christensen used this one-handed move to slip the puck under Dan Ellis' pads and get the Rangers off to the right start in a shootout against the Ducks last season.
Other considerations: Wojtek Wolski, Brad Richards
Nearly half of Spezza's 12 shootout goals are game-deciding goals, as he has five game-winners. He has been successful on 52 percent of his attempts.
Spezza led the Senators with four shootout goals in 2007-08 and had three goals apiece in 2009 and 2010, with one game-winning goal each year.
Spezza gets great speed right off the whistle on this shot and doesn't slow down as he snaps the puck behind Carey Price of the Canadiens.
Other considerations: Daniel Alfredsson
In 2006-07, while still a member of the Sabres, Briere had six shootout goals with three game-winners. He has scored three goals two other times since, including last year on the Flyers.
He has eight game-winning goals among his 18 shootout tallies (around 44 percent). He has been successful almost 45 percent of the time.
Here, Briere gets the puck in on Ryan Miller's open left side to help the Flyers win the shootout against his former team.
Vrbata posted impressive totals in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, as he had eight goals in 2009-10 and seven goals last season. He has 10 game-winners of his 24 shootout goals, which means he gets the winning goal almost 42 percent of the time.
He has scored on almost 46 percent of his shootout attempts and led the Coyotes in shootout scoring in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Vrbata changes directions on Jonas Hiller before shooting the puck and then slips it under Hiller's pad.
Despite having not played since January, Crosby has still had success in the shootout over his career.
In 2006-07, four of his five shootout goals were game-winners, while four of his eight in 2009-10 helped decide the game. In 2010, he was successful on 80 percent of his chances.
Of his 21 shootout goals, 13 (almost 62 percent) have been game-winners, and he has success on about 40 percent of his attempts.
This is a classic goal from Crosby's rookie season. He comes flying in, then hits the top of the net to send Penguins fans into a frenzy. Jose Theodore didn't stand a chance.
Other considerations: Kris Letang
Clowe led the Sharks in shootout goals in the last two seasons and has three goals in each of the last three years. Of his 11 goals, seven of them (about 64 percent) have been game-winners. He is successful on 45 percent of his chances.
This goal from last season fooled both the announcers and Mikka Kiprusoff of the Flames. The announcers thought Kipper had made the save, but the puck slid in under his pads to help the Sharks win the shootout.
Other considerations: Joe Pavelski
Langenbrunner just joined the Blues this year, but he was successful in the shootout while with the Devils.
He has 13 career shootout goals with six game-winners (46 percent), and he has been successful on nearly 61 percent of his chances. He has put up at least three goals in four of the last six seasons.
This video from 2008 was on Langenbrunner's first shootout try of the season. Johan Hedberg, then playing for the Thrashers, goes down to the ice at the wrong time, allowing Langenbrunner to score easily.
Other considerations: Andy McDonald, TJ Oshie
This was another difficult team to pick a representative for. After much debate, I settled on team captain Vincent Lecavalier.
Lecavalier has 12 shootout goals for his career, with 33 percent of them being game-winners (four game-deciding goals). He is successful about 28 percent of the time.
In 2007, two of his three goals helped the Bolts win the game, while in 2009-10, his only goal was a game-winning goal.
Lecavalier caused Devils goalie Kevin Weekes to think he had the save as he closed his pads. But, he kicked the puck behind him into the net.
Other considerations: Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos
Kessel has 14 shootout goals of his career, and 11 of them (nearly 79 percent) have been game-winners. In 2007 and 2008, all of his combined nine goals won the game while he was still on the Bruins.
Two seasons ago, two of his three shootout goals won the game. This success has helped him have a success rate of nearly 33 percent on his chances.
Here, Semyon Varlamov, then playing for the Capitals, backs himself up as Kessel is coming towards him. But it's too late, as Kessel puts the puck in between Varalmov's pads to start the shootout off right for Toronto.
Other considerations: Nikolai Kulemin
Sturm has eight shootout goals for his career, with a career high of four in 2007. Three of his goals, or nearly 38 percent, have been game-winners. He is successful on almost 50 percent of his attempts.
While Sturm was with Boston, he shot this puck over Ryan Miller's blocker. He doesn't lose any speed on his way to the net, either.
Other considerations: Ryan Kesler
Semin has 13 shootout goals over his career, and six of them (46 percent) have been game-winners. He is successful on almost 45 percent of his chances and has led the Caps in shootout goals four times. That total includes this season, as he already has one goal.
In a recent game against the Lightning, Semin is the second shooter to score to give the Caps the shootout win. He scores this puck on Dwayne Roloson's right side to secure the victory.
Other considerations: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom
Wheeler has nine shootout goals in his career, and two of them are game-winners (22 percent). He is successful on 47 percent of his chances.
He had four goals in 2009, scoring on 57 percent of his attempts. Last season, he had a goal with the Bruins before being traded to the Thrashers, where he added two more.
Wheeler has surprised more than one goalie in the shootout during his career, including veteran Nikolai Khabibulin, who was playing for the Blackhawks when Wheeler put this shot past him. Wheeler was with the Bruins at the time.
Other considerations: Bryan Little, Kyle Wellwood