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Shootouts - DEC.18.07

Nancy Henderson



<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>Much like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in that white hot courtyard in Bolivia, the Canucks suck at shootouts. This year, anyway - last year they were better. They also seemed to turn it up a notch in the overtime period last season, ending the contest before it even got to a shootout. I also think other factors, like the nagging wrist injury to the usually reliable Mo, have played a part.

We are into the third season with the shootout and it still bugs me. I’m glad my dear old dad is not around to witness it – I’m sure he would be appalled. I dread the day that they decide to include it in playoff games. And I despise the fact that teams playing a tepid game and a safe, uninspired overtime, waiting for the chance to triumph in the tacked-on superskills competition, receive the same two points as a team that clearly dominated in regulation. As far as I am concerned, the team that wins the shootout should merely earn an extra half point – a lesser reward for a lesser win. But as long as the league is awarding a full point, the Canucks ought to start regularly practicing their shootout moves.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec0807_canuckvspenguin13_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec0807_canuckvspenguin13_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>It is a rare day that I would ever suggest any man, particularly a hockey player, is thinking too much. But it seems to me the Canucks are excessively calculating their moves during the long, lone skate. Everyone tries to throw in that one extra deke – goalies are less inclined to be suckered by it these days. I keep begging for Markus to shoot about two strides earlier than he has been. Nazzy is still one of those guys who can hit a tiny slice of daylight shining behind a goaltender, if he would just get the shot away.

If I were running the practice (man, THAT is a contest I wish the Canucks would have – Coach For A Day) I’d first like the lads to do a breakaway drill, where the shooter in question was steaming towards the net while being hunted down by a pack of players. This would encourage speediness in both the approach to the net (a quality that is sometimes lacking during shootouts) and in the release of the shot. Maybe it would just help loosen them up a bit. They currently go into the shootout like condemned men heading to the gallows. I’d also try to emulate the conditions of an actual shootout as closely as possible – with just the shooter and the goalie on the ice and the rest of the team at the bench. Maybe they could even pipe in a little crowd noise for extra authenticity. And I’d add some kind of mild carrot and stick, reward and punishment system to encourage accuracy. Perhaps I’d make them remove a piece of clothing every time they missed – that would cheer me up, if nothing else.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec0807_canuckvspenguin05_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec0807_canuckvspenguin05_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I’d also like the players to demonstrate that stunning little move that I just know each of them has been secretly working on since peewee. There might be an idea in there that could be used in a real game situation.

Or, if all else fails, maybe they could just score more goals in regulation than the other team. It’s a concept just crazy enough to work.




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