Eric Hornick
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October 21 - Shout Out to the Shootout

Like it or hate it, the new shootout is here to stay in the

I hate it.  But there's no way the NHL will ever get rid of
it - for one big reason.  The fans love it.

I saw my first regular season shootout at Madison
Square Garden on Wednesday night.

The shootout came following an absolutely terrific 65
minutes with the fans hanging on pins and needles.  The Islanders had blown a 2-0 lead, and the
Rangers survived an Islander power play that extended into the overtime.

You could sense things were different than at most mid-October hockey games. For one, the fans,
who previously would have been running for trains throughout the overtime, stayed in the building,
just not in their seats.

It seemed fitting that the Islanders and Rangers would play their first shootout against each other,
and at MSG to boot.  

Miro Satan was the only player to score in the six player shootout - we'll never know if Jaromir Jagr
would have, because he broke his stick on his attempt - and the Isles won their first shootout in the
same building that on April 11, 1975 they won their first overtime game to eliminate the Rangers from
the playoffs.

Some statistics put out by the NHL show the shootout, as well as other changes to improve offensive
flow, is having a positive effect [through 97 games]:

Goal-Scoring - up 32% to an average of 6.2 per game.

Shots On Goal - up 11% to an average of 58.8 shots per game.

Late-Game Dramatics - 15 go-ahead goals in the final five minutes of regulation, more than double
the 2003-04 figure of seven.

Overtime Goals - Nine of the 19 games that have gone to overtime have been decided in the extra
period (47.4%).  There were goals in just five of 18 overtimes through 97 games in 2003-04 (27.8%).

Both the late-game and overtime goal totals may be influenced just by having a shootout.  Teams
know that there will be a winner at some point, so they might as well go for it.

As our television post-game broadcast ran down, we watched a Ranger fan screaming expletives
from the 300 section to what must have been an Islander fan in a luxury box.

I said to know one in particular, "Hockey's Back!" It certainly is.