The Rangers Game Log

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shootouts Cheapen Penalty Shots

- The Devils and Thrashers were tied with overtime ticking down when Marcel Marion Hossa came streaking down the right side on Marty Brodeur. Dan McGillis tripped Hossa, sending him crashing into the Devils goalie, and Hossa was awarded a penalty shot (on a somewhat questionable call). So here we go....a minute and a half left, the game at stake.....WOW, there’s nothing like this, right?

Well, in fact, now there is. While the penalty shot remains indisputably an exciting play, what really was different about this one (which Brodeur stopped), even coming in overtime, from your usual run-of-the-mill shootout penalty shot? The play is perhaps the most unique one-on-one confrontation in all of team sports. There really is nothing like it in any other game - to halt the action and clear all but two players off the playing field. Perhaps the closest thing to it would be the penalty kick in soccer, but the goalie has as much chance of stopping those as George W. Bush has of convincing us that he didn’t lie about the war. And whatsmore, the penalty shot in the course of a game is truly a rarity – if you follow one particular team, you’re lucky to see it more than a couple of times a season.

But now, with shootouts, you could conceivably see a penalty shot 30 times in a single night, as we did at the Garden last month. And though we will always remember the goal by Marek Malik that ended that game, it was a truly unique one, and most of the other 29 attempts were eminently forgettable. Once a truly singular occurrence, the penalty shot, in an effort to declare a winner in games that don’t necessarily warrant nor need one, has been cheapened into a superfluous gimmick. Here’s hoping that the epic spectacle of multiple overtime playoff games is not the next victim.


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