My hockey career didn’t exactly result in an explosion of numbers of any sort, dollars or statistics, but I was decent enough offensively to be chosen with regularity in the shootout. I’m fairly confident that on most breakaways I’m going to find a way to get the biscuit in the basket regardless of who’s in net. That’s probably unjustified, but whatever, you have to at least start with the belief that you aren’t terrible.
So without further ado, I’m going to reveal it all, like a sellout magician (Gob Bluth?) with his tricks: here’s what I’m trying to get the goalie to do (and why) when we’re one-on-one. Other players – actually good ones, I swear – are using similar logic.
One of the least recognized tools goal scorers use in the shootout is the subtle change of speed. On a breakaway, your speed is dictated by the need to stay ahead of your pursuers. In the shootout, that’s not a thing at all. Here’s how guys use speed:
Start fast, hit the brakes: It’s all about changing the goaltender’s depth. Goalies step up to the top of the crease or beyond after the player skates in, and they try to match the player’s speed. That way if the guy shoots, they’re out cutting down the angle, if he dekes, they’re moving back at a pace that allows them to get their toe on the post. By starting fast, you’re trying to get the goaltender to match you as they usually do. When you hit the brakes, they have to as well, and that does two things: one, it freezes them for a quick second (think about stopping while skating backwards – how’s your lateral mobility?), and two, it usually leaves them deeper in the net than they want to be (reaction time and whatnot). So now you’ve got a frozen goalie who’s deep in his crease; translation, shoot. You hit your spot, it’ll go in.