Shootouts, tiebreaker could be big factor

Last season, the Kings made the playoffs by three points — they had 98 points, while ninth-place Dallas had 95 — largely because of their success in the shootout. The Kings went 10-2 in the post-regulation, extra-point, 1-on-1 contest. This season? The Kings are 4-7 in shootouts. Consider that if the Kings were as good this year, as they were last year, in shootouts, an extra five points might have the Kings atop the Pacific Division right now. Shootouts are a double whammy for the Kings right now. They’re losing them at a high rate, and they’re also losing ground in the first conference-standings tiebreaker, which is total wins in regulation and overtime. The Kings have 26 non-shootout wins, fewer than the three teams directly ahead of them: Colorado (26), Dallas (29) and San Jose (27). At the least, the Kings would benefit from winning the shootouts, if it comes to that.

SUTTER: “It’s an important stat. If this team had won even half of those (games), with six or seven (extra points), where would we be? That’s how close it is, so you have to be trying to win them. The philosophy is to try to win in overtime.’’

Question: Because of that, do you take more risks in the overtime period, to get that win for the tiebreaker?

SUTTER: “I don’t know if it’s risk, but you’re trying to get everybody to hang onto the puck and you’re trying to get your D to be right there and, any time they’ve got the puck, to be like a forward. That’s what you’re trying to do. So I don’t know if that’s risk. That’s sort of the way I’ve always done it. Have the puck, hang onto it, and have our defensemen come forward.’’

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