Wojtek Wolski, Erik Christensen and Mats Zuccarello formed a
potent New York Rangers shootout lineup during the 2010-2011 season but none
are locks to be on the team’s active roster next year.
The questions surrounding the three shootout stars have led
many to wonder how the Rangers will fare in the skills competition this year
and considering the Rangers wouldn’t have made the playoffs last season without
their star shootout squad, that’s a very fair concern.
But one of the forgotten traits of the $60 million man the
Rangers signed on Saturday is that he’s not too shabby in one-on-one situations
with the goalie.
In fact, since the shootout was introduced in 2005, only
three players have scored more shootout goals than Brad Richards.
The playmaking center doesn’t have a reputation for being a
slick stickhandler and his hands will never be confused with Wolski’s, but
Richards is a very heady player and thrives in situations where he must simply
outsmart and outwait opposing netminders.
Richards went five-for-11 last season and has scored 25
goals in 59 career shootout tries, a 42% success rate which is comparable to
Christensen (23/43, 54%), Wolski (22/50, 44%) and Zuccarello (5/9, 56%).
Richards isn’t known for being a shootout specialist thanks
in large part to his numerous other skills, but he will undoubtedly be a
go-to-guy for Coach John Tortorella this year when games are unsolved in
The Rangers will be just fine in shootouts with the reliable
Richards and impenetrable backstop Henrik Lundqvist, and if one of the Rangers’
other three shootout stars gets regular playing time they could be just as good
as last year.
Data from the terrific website, NHLShootouts.com.
Free Agency Coverage:
From July 1 >
Sign Mike Rupp >
Re-Sign Ruslan Fedotenko >
Rangers' Offer To Richards Through The Roof >
Wing Logjam: And Why It's Bad News For Wojtek Wolski >
Land Brad Richards >
the $ of the Richards Deal >
Brad Richards: Shootout Star >
Free Agency Preview:
A: Sign Brad Richards >
B: Trade For A Top Center >
C: Stick With The Status Quo At Center >
D: Add An Offensive Winger >
E: Sign An Impact Veteran UFA Defenseman >
The Rangers Won't Be Giving Steven Stamkos An Offer Sheet >