Feb 28, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) attempts a shot on San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during a shootout at HP Pavilion. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Red Wings Shootout: Who do you take?

Hate it or love it, the shootout plays a large importance in today’s NHL. The Detroit Red Wings’ shootout record started off abysmal, ending the season with about a win about every third shootout. Hopefully a healthy roster solves both the need to use the shootout (regulation wins) and the conversion of wins once in the shootout.

So here is the scenario, one in which I hope to never actually witness for the sake of my sanity, but here it is: A healthy team takes the ice on Saturday April 11, 2015 and the Wings are at Carolina for the final regular season game of the year. The game is going into a shootout and winner of the shootout makes the post season; loser plays golf. Which three players do you want in the shootout and in what order?

According to NHL.com, 11 players attempted the shootout for Detroit in the 2013-2014 season. Patrick Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Gustav Nyquist all attempted shots for the Wings.

However, Riley Sheahan (0-1), Henrik Zetterberg (0-4), Johan Franzen (0-2), Tomas Jurco (0-2), and Gustav Nyquist (0-3) all failed to convert on any of their attempts. Of those players who scored, ex-wing Patrick Eaves had the highest shootout conversation rate at 67% (2 for 3). However, his departure from the club is not critical for fixing their shootout woes as most fans remember Patty for his massive failed attempt than any shootout goal he scored.

First Up: The only Red Wing that cannot be left off of a shootout lineup is Pavel Datsyuk. Posting a rather average 25% conversion rate in the shootout, going 2 for 8, Datsyuk should be on pace, with a healthy knee, to score more to his average of just under 50%.

A quick search on youtube can prove just how silly Datsyuk can make a goalie look when given space to perform and the shootout is just that. Datsyuk is lethal on both his forehand and backhand, and has the ability to unnerve a goaltender right away. That is why placing Datsyuk first in the lineup can be a huge factor for the Wings gaining an edge in the shootout.

Second Spot: There is no better player for the second spot then Tomas Tatar. Tatar has shown he has great hands in tight and is the type of player whose desire to win pays off in big moments like a shootout. He proved last year to be a consistent threat in the shootout going 3 for 9, but more importantly taking the responsibility to perform better in the shootout after he failed to convert on a game winner mid-way through the season. Tatar has the moves and the hands to continue to be a threat in the skills competition and placing him second creates a solid second punch following Datsyuk.

Last up: This was by far the hardest decision. But the last shot has to go to the captain Henrik Zetterberg. If this was a normal shootout, I would shy away from going to Z due to his typical shootout woes (about 25% conversion rate). Zetterberg has shown he can convert with ease in the shootout, but for some reason has failed to do so consistently. But, with the season on the line…you have to go with the captain.s

Honorable Mentions:

1) Gustav Nyquist: Nyquist got hot, arguable hotter than any player in the 2013-2014 season. However, he was 0-2 in the shootout. Nyquist has shown he can score elite goals at the NHL level and its just a matter of time before that translates to the shootout. Like Jurco, there just is not the sample size necessary to spot Nyquist in for the last spot considering the circumstances. Both honorable mentions would be good fits for the shootout lineup and likely to see shootout time at some point this upcoming season.

2) Tomas Jurco: If Datsyuk is the magician; Jurco might just be the apprentice. Gaining popularity before his draft year with youtube highlights showing off his stick handling, Jurco can do some elite things with the puck. He was 0-2 last year in the shootout, but, in the long run Jurco will most likely develop into a skill challenge ace.

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