Eric Fehr has become one of the Washington Capitals automatic options in shootouts, seeing as he’s a perfect five-for-five on the season. But just because he’s good at it doesn’t mean the winger likes the tiebreak method all that much.
“To be honest I don’t really like the shootouts, I wish we didn’t have shootouts in the game,” Fehr said. “I wish we’d go into four-on-four a little longer or three-on-three or something, but as long as they’re there we’ve got to find a way to win them and get the points.”
The Capitals have gone to a shootout 11 times this season – two more than any other team. Their eight wins in the skills competition this season is a franchise record and also leads the NHL.
But while gaining all those extra points in shootouts have helped the Capitals remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division, they still have a concerning low number of regulation wins (8). Washington has fewer combined regulation and overtime wins (10) than all but five teams in the NHL: Winnipeg (10), Edmonton (9), Florida (8), New York Islanders (5) and Buffalo (3).
Fehr doesn’t like determining games in an individual manner and also finds it odd that regular season games can be determined in a method that doesn’t exist in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I feel like it’s too individual. I think hockey’s a team game and you like to see games get decided by a whole team, by working together,” Fehr said. “I don’t like it when it’s isolated down to one-on-one. That’s obviously the way fans like it, it’s a big draw for the fans so we’ve got to do it for them.
“It’s an easier way to get points in the regular season, but come playoff time we don’t get those,” Fehr said. “It’s a little bit weird that we have two different scenarios for different parts of the season, but that’s just the way it is.”
Arguments like Fehr’s are part of the reason why the NHL’s 30 general managers have discussed potentially changing the overtime format in an effort to have more games decided before reaching a shootout. Extending the time of four-on-four play or potentially playing five minutes of three-on-three after the initial four-on-four have both been suggested. (From November: Caps GM George McPhee weighs in on potential overtime changes.)
But for now, the Capitals have made the most of the shootout and the eight extra points they’ve gained through those victories have helped them climb the Metropolitan Division ladder where the difference between second and seventh place is only seven points.