The Statistical History of the 0-0 Shootout

The Statistical History of the 0-0 Shootout
February 8, 2012, 9:29 am
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Imagine a world where a team can earn two points for winning a game in which it failed to score a single goal.

As was so often the motto in the seasons immediately following the 2004-2005 lockout: "Welcome to the new NHL!"

Maybe Philadelphia fans would have warmed up to the post-game skills competition by now if the Flyers were, you know, a little better at it. Still, there's little doubt that some things about the practice just fail to make any sense. Sure, maybe point inflation in the conference standings is a quibbling argument since the shootout is enforced league-wide and therefore, obviously, fair, but how can a blank score sheet really result in two points?

If no one scored a goal, no one should win. It's almost like 0-0 ties should be excluded from receiving the shootout treatment (even if that is the most glaring example of why the league instituted the shootout in the first place). Thankfully, for those struggling with the goal-less victory, it's a pretty rare occurrence. So, just how just how much of an anomaly is the 1-0 shootout final in the NHL?

Since its inception in 2005, there have been 25 times that a team has won a scoreless game by virtue of the shootout -- an average of 3.57 times per season. 

To put this in perspective, there are 2,460 regular season games played each year. If we omit this current season, there were 14,760 games played over six seasons from 2005-06 to 2010-11. As a game has ended in this fashion only 23 times over that stretch, there has been just a .2% occurrence of a 1-0 shootout final across the league.

Before we discuss the Flyers exceptionally limited history with such a finish, check out these amusing facts from the 29 other teams in the league:

-- The New York Rangers have played in the most 1-0 shootout finishes -- five. 20% of all nil-nil shootouts have involved the Rangers. The franchise owns a win-loss of record 3-2 in those games.

-- Minnesota, Nashville, Phoenix and Boston are in a tie for second with each having played three.

-- Phoenix has been the most successful at winning the 1-0 shootout going 3-0.

-- Despite its rarity, only four teams -- Chicago, Carolina, Washington, Winnipeg/Atlanta -- have not competed in such a game.

-- Only the Rangers and Bruins have ever competed in two of these games against the same opponent in the same year, splitting 1-0 shootout finals during the 2007-08 season with both teams winning on home ice.

-- There have never been more than six games where a 0-0 tie has gone to a shootout in a season, though that number popped up twice in consecutive years (2008-09, 2009-10). 

-- The road team has had the advantage in these contests, going 15-10 in 25 games.

As for the Flyers, they actually took part in the very first 1-0 shootout finish, defeating the Calgary Flames at the Wachovia Center in Dec. 2005. Last night was their only other appearance attached to a 1-0 S/O final.

Indeed, their loss to the Isles on Tuesday was only the second time this season a game has resulted in a scoreless shootout finish.

The other occasion came just a week ago, when Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves to backstop a Ranger win over Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres.

So, given these statistics, does the relative rarity of NHL games ending in 0-0 shootouts make it any more palatable for you? Are 0-0 shootouts worse in your mind than games in which each team tallies one or more times, but not more than their opponent?
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