Handzus key for Sharks in shootouts

Handzus key for Sharks in shootouts
January 31, 2013, 4:15 pm
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SAN JOSE – The importance of shootouts in this shortened season can’t be understated, and the results of the three-point games will have a huge impact on the final standings when all is said and done.

It’s become a near certainty that Sharks coach Todd McLellan will call on center Michal Handzus if the game is still tied after overtime, even though Handzus hasn't recorded a point through the first six games. On Thursday, Handzus was the only player to convert in the breakaway competition against the Ducks, giving San Jose that all-important extra point in a divisional game.

Handzus is a career 17-for-33 in shootouts (51.5 percent), and 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) since joining the Sharks.

“I have fun with it. It’s a fun part of the game to me,” Handzus said. “Obviously, you want to be the guy to be there. I have a couple moves, and it seems they’re working.”

“You want to help the team as much as you can. I haven’t been scoring the first six games, so I was kind of pressing myself [Tuesday] to help the team get the extra point. It was nice to contribute a little bit, but I want to score during the games, too.”

McLellan said there is a member of the team’s front office, that he wouldn’t name, who does research on shootouts including “percentages and records for and against different goaltenders.”

It doesn’t take an Isaac Newton, though, to realize that Handzus’ conversion rate on shootouts is pretty impressive. In fact, among active players that have taken at least 10 shootout attempts, Handzus is fifth in the NHL.

“He’s earned that right based on percentages and the number of goals that he’s scored,” McLellan said. “Every team seems to have one guy they go to.”

For the Sharks, that guy is Handzus. The 35-year-old keeps it simple, and doesn’t plan his move before he touches the puck.

“Usually if I decide before, then I don’t score,” he said. “Usually, I just try to come in with a little speed, see what the goalie is doing, and decide from there. Like I said, I’ve got a couple moves, and usually just go by what I see.”

Active shootout leaders (at least 10 attempts):
Matt Hendricks (Washington): 8-for-12, 66.7 percent
Frans Nielsen (NY Islanders): 23-for-38, 60.5 percent
Tyler Seguin (Boston): 12-for-22, 54.5 percent
Adrian Aucoin (Columbus): 6-for-11, 54.5 percent
Michal Handzus (Sharks): 17-for-33, 51.5 percent
Jonathan Toews (Chicago): 23-for-45, 51.1 percent

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