Why no Jagr in shootout?
Check out our Flyers' game story from Denver where there are a lot of good nuggets, including why roster signs point to Claude Giroux's return, and one about Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr paying tribute to their Czech Republic president who passed away.
We caught up with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in an hour-long session on a recent Friday. Here are 5 questions from the interview.
DALLAS -- Danny Briere went first. James van Riemsdyk followed. And then Peter Laviolette tapped... Matt Read try his luck in the lottery game known as the NHL shootout?
The most obvious question is: why would Laviolette not opt to leave the NHL's active, all-time leading goal-scorer sitting on the bench during a breakaway competition? Jaromir Jagr has 656 career goals on his resume.
Because of tight newspaper deadlines, this reporter didn't get a chance to ask Laviolette after the game - a question that can be answered after the Flyers' noon practice at American Airlines Center in Dallas - but if we had to guess, it would be that he has seen the numbers.
They aren't pretty.
Among the 6 active Flyers who have had at least 6 attempts in the shootout, Jagr ranks last with a 22.7 percent success rate. That is a list that includes defenseman Kimmo Timonen. For his career, Jagr is 5-for-22. Yikes!
In his defense, Jagr has not taken an NHL shootout attempt in more than 3 full seasons, so he hasn't exactly had much practice.
And that's the thing - the Flyers, as a whole, haven't had much practice with the shootout. That could explain why they are the NHL's worst team in the shootout since it was instated in 2005-06. To my knowledge, and I am at practice nearly every single day, the Flyers haven't worked on it since training camp.
They are 0-2 in shootouts this season.
Here is where they stack up all-time:
FLYERS: 19-36 (34.5 win percentage)
Florida: 26-48 (35.5)
Ottawa: 21-35 (37.5)
Washington: 27-39 (40.5)
Calgary: 23-33 (41.1)
Columbus: 32-44 (42)
St. Louis: 30-40 (42.8)
Vancouver: 27-35 (43.5)
Montreal: 31-34 (47.6)
It pales in comparison to a team like the Avalanche, who live and die by the shootout. They have won 17 of their last 18 shootouts and they are 6-0 in shootouts this season. On Monday, the Avalanche went 3-for-3, just the 5th time in 55 all-time shootouts for the Flyers that the opponent has made all 3.
Most of the rest of the NHL - the other 21 teams - are either hovering around .500 all-time in shootouts or are well above that mark.
But what does that mean in terms of an impact on the standings? Here are the points the Flyers have given up over the years by not picking up that one extra point.
2010-11: 7 points
2009-10: 3 points*
2008-09: 6 points
2007-08: 6 points
2006-07: 6 points
2005-06: 6 points
*= only year with a winning (4-3) record in shootout
Coincidentally, Laviolette gave van Riemsdyk a chance - for the first time in his career - on Monday night and he converted with a beautiful, top-shelf shot. In fact, van Riemsdyk is now one of 11 active NHLers to be 1-for-1 in the shootout.
BATTLE OF YOUTH: Many people look at the Avalanche, mired in the bottom of the Western Conference standings, as simply a young team trying to find their way. It's hard to believe, in standings comparison, that the Flyers are so similar in age. As of Dec. 13, Colorado is the NHL's youngest team with an average age of 26 years, 35 days. The Flyers are third at 26 years, 93 days.
HIT THE NET: On Monday, the Flyers fired 20 attempts that missed the net, their most since they also missed 20 against Boston on Dec. 1, 2010.
KNUBLE HITS 1,000: Tonight in Washington, former Flyer Mike Knuble will become the 20th American trained player to reach the 1,000-game plateau in NHL history.
Knuble, 39, spent 310 of those regular season games in a Flyers uniform, from 2005-06 to 2008-09. He will be honored before the Capitals' game against Nashville at the Verizon Center.
"It's going to be like unwrapping a birthday present, kind of," Knuble told the Washington Times. "And the day after, you'll be like 'Huh?' Now, you've just got to keep going."
Knuble said he spent the first part of his career just trying to make it to the 2004-05 lockout, so that he could hit the 400 game mark.
"I think that was a pretty good milestone. Back in the day, that used to be like a different pension level, so that was the big goal – get to 400 games," Knuble said. "It's changed since then. It's something I've been looking forward to [this] the last probably couple years. You try and stay healthy and you never know with your contract status and all that.
"Once you get over that hump and you've proved you can play, then it's a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy. You play with great teammates that help you stay in the game and play well on the ice, but keep you entertained off the ice and keep you fresh coming to the rink every day."
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