Ryder Criticism. Alan Ryder, that is.
His conclusion is that there is little correlation between a goalie's hockey performance and shootout performance, therefore coaches and GMs need to spend more time thinking about the shootout. Especially those crotchety old-schoolers North of the border. To be honest, I find his dismissive tone of 'traditional hockey values' getting in the way of smart decisions a little insulting.
According to Ryder's table, there have been 337 shootout points awarded. Over the same time span, there have been 3373 non-shootout points awarded. That 3373 includes wins and OT/SO losses. So it's fair to say that the importance of the shootout is one ninth of the importance of regulation/OT NHL hockey.
For the most part, NHL coaches aren't morons. Say a coach has to decide between two players available to dress for a game. The two have identical regulation/OT performance but one happens to be a shootout ace. The decision is obvious in this case. The difficulty arises when there is a trade-off.
Let's compare Player A and Player B. Player A is fantastic in shootouts - he contributes 0.5 points more than Player B for every shootout. Unfortunately, he's not quite as good at regulation/OT hockey and contributes team 0.1 points per OT/regulation game less than Player B. Player A's net contribution:
0.5ppg*(1/10) - 0.1ppg*(9/10) = -0.04ppg
So Player A contributes 0.04 fewer points per than player B.
Similarly, if player C costs you 0.5 points per shootout but gains you an extra 0.1 points per regulation/OT, he's worth 0.04 points per game more than player B. Because of the rarity of the shootout, regulation/OT performance is much more valuable than shootout performance.
To sum up: Although 1/10th of all available points is a significant fraction, 9/10ths of all available points is nine times more significant. If you're facing a trade-off, you need to gain 9x more shootout value than you lose in regulation/OT value.
Next, let's look at Ryder's table of team shootout performance and compare it to regulation/OT performance:
Click the table for a clearer image. The SO record columns are copied from Ryder's table. I got the Non-SO record numbers from NHL.com.
The correlation between SO% and Non-SO% is -0.15. Good shootout teams are slightly less likely to be good 65-minute teams and vice versa.
The negative correlation is small but significant and completely unsurprising. It suggests the trade-off between shootout performance and 65-minute performance is real. Kiprusoff sucks in shootouts, but wins a lot of games for the Flames. Jussi Jokinen isn't that special in the first 65 minutes (recent 4-goal games notwithstanding), but is crackerjack in the shootout. Ryder's perspective that there is a lack of 'market competition' is explained by some teams having regular players that happen to be great shootout performers (i.e. Dallas), and some teams having great regular players who happen to be lousy shootout performers (i.e. Calgary).
To be fair, the main thrust of Ryder's article is that the backup goalie should come in as the closer for shootouts if he is the better shootout performer. It's a good point. The reason it doesn't happen is probably because coaches prefer not to put a 'cold' goalie in that situation, either due to injury concerns (seems goalies do the splits a lot in shootouts) or concerns about the performance of a 'cold' player. I'd like to see evidence that a player can be put in this situation regularly and perform at his usual 'warmed up' level without a greater risk of injury before I'd endorse the idea. Raycroft looks like the perfect guinea pig for the experiment.
Update: Ryder responded to my comment on his article thusly:
"You are absolutely correct that the shootout is 'only' about 10% of the game. But 'only' 3-4 players per team affect that 10%. And, of course, the goaltender is always one of those players. In the case of forwards the leading shootout contributions of all time have come largely from guys who don't perform at the same level in skating time. They are, in effect, shootout specialists. The shootout tests finesse. But the Leafs trot out their power forwards. The story with goaltending is more complex. You would not choose a single goaltender based on a stand-out shootout record. But, just maybe, you might choose a backup based on that metric AND use him as your closer."