Hey Blues, Stop Shooting First In The Shootout

Living in St. Louis, my vision of the world is a little biased on a few topics. 

For instance, I only like my ravioli toasted. Provel cheese, while technically not being a cheese I don't think, is just fine on a pizza. You probably know what I think of a certain city in Michigan where they make cars. And because I spend the summer watching baseball, I think any NHL team that chooses to go first in the shootout is making the wrong choice. 

Sure, it probably doesn't matter. In October NHL.com had a story talking about how road teams had won just a few more shootouts than the home squad since it's inception. Specifically, road teams had won 325 shootouts compared to 313 for the home teams. That difference of 12 is worth about one percentage point. But man, when that point favors my argument, it's totally important and allows me to the team shooting second wins more than the team shooting first. 

In baseball, you want last at bat. Tied game or down by a run or two, you want the last chance. You want to be on offense. I understand the argument that you want to put pressure on the other team to score. But look what can happen.

Saturday night the Blues suffered another crippling third-period choke job giving up a 3-1 lead in the final 20 minutes. They held on through overtime and went to the skills competition and chose to shoot first. Andy McDonald, a former Duck, shot first and didn't score. Immediately, the Ducks gained the advantage of something positive happening for them and something negative happening for the Blues. Corey Perry capitalized on that advantage and put the Ducks up 1-0 in the shootout. Just one shooter in and it felt like the Blues were playing catch-up the rest of the game. The fact that T.J. Oshie scored to tie it at 2-2 and Bobby Ryan, who had two goals in regulation missed, was as surprising as it was exciting. For the rest of the total seven rounds, each time the Blues didn't score, it felt like goalie Chris Mason had to pick not only his teammates up but the crowd as well. And that's tough to do. He's only one bald, bearded superfreak. 

But think about this. Would you rather put pressure on your best offensive players by going second or on your goaltender? While it's not nearly as lopsided as an advantage as in soccer, the goaltender will always be at a disadvantage. I say put the goaltender out there first and tell your forwards to go win it for him. 

What's really surprising is how nearly universal it is for the home team to choose shooting first. How is there not a difference of opinion on this? But is there a difference of opinion among you, the Game Time readers? Vote and let us know in the comments. And remember to come back for the GDT with the Flames tonight. 

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