Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shoot That Biscuit Boys!! But Don't Forget to Stop It Too...

When you're a young kid trying to learn the game of hockey, your first instinct (once you get past the whole skating thing) is to shoot the puck. Scoring is one of the most fun and obviously pivotal occurrences in our great sport. But what happens when talented young men simply can't pull the trigger? You get a player/referee turned team blogger questioning the Coach about why his boys are simply not shooting the biscuit when they get in prime position.

This is the second question I've gotten to pose to the Isles very astute Head Coach, Scott Gordon and I got a very direct answer for my trouble (thanks for giving me the opportunity Seth). My question hinged on an example of a 3-on-1 opportunity that the "Kid Line" had in the second period of Monday's game against the Pens. Kyle Okposo had the puck and instinctively tried to pass across to either Josh Bailey or Blake Comeau and subsequently hit the outstretched stick of the Penguins' defenseman. I pressed Coach Gordon for a solution to some of the unselfish play, especially when someone like Okposo is in that kind of shooting position:

"I think sometimes you get a 3-on-1 and you think that there's gonna be somebody that's gonna be more open than you are and probably talk yourself out of a shot. These are the types of plays that hopefully the players, when they get in these situations, they identify with them the next time they get the opportunities and then realize when you get to a certain point, we gotta make sure that we get a shot."

I know it's instinct for a hockey player bearing down on a goalie to try to get him moving laterally, but there should come a time in a young player's career where he utilizes the gift of talent that has been given to him. I'm sure that Coach Gordon has told the boys on numerous occasions to simply get the puck to the net. In the example I used for my question, if KO shoots the puck rather than trying to dish it off, one of two things could have happened: 1) The shot rips past the goalie and into the net or 2) A big, fat, juicy rebound pops out to the other forwards who are on the rush. Either way, it's a win-win situation and not a squandered scoring chance.

Let me digress a bit. This is not to say that players should shoot from absolutely EVERYWHERE on the ice. In fact, if you've noticed recently, most of the shots the Islanders are taking are from the perimeter. I think Mike Schuerlein of IslesBlogger and Lighthouse Hockey said it best when I asked him about the impact of my question at the presser:

"That's a question I've had for a long time. Why is it that when these guys (the Islanders) get into a good shooting position they pass and when they are in a horrible shooting position, they're shooting?"

It is my hope that in seasons following this initial rebuilding year will grow that killer instinct to shoot and put the other team on their heels rather than take shots from spots that won't generate any other scoring chances. As fans, we can only be encouraged by the progress this group has made over this season. Even though they lose a majority of their games, they never look out of place and seem to be coming together as a team. Let's hope that continues for years to come.


If you're Joey MacDonald this statement has some semblance of truth. I've never truly been a fan of the goaltending style where it looks like you've taken lessons with Michael Phelps for the backstroke. It always seems, at least to me, that Joey is swimming.

During my Live Blog last game, my friend Dominik over at Lighthouse Hockey was kind enough to drop a comment in about my musings regarding Joey Mac.

"THN had some stat a few weeks back on "save % on rebounds" -- Joey Mac's was not good, no sir."

That being said, Joey has done a magnificent job all season with keeping the Islanders in games and has stepped up quite admirably with "The Franchise" Rick DiPietro out for the season. What bothers me most about his style is not that he does give up a lot of rebounds, but more so that the rebounds end up in high percentage scoring areas (i.e. the slot).

Yann Danis seems to have gotten the hang of deadening the puck when it hits him or directing it to the corner. Joey on the other hand still needs to work on his rebound control. Even Howie Rose, the Islanders play-by-play man had something to say about it:
"Oh, and another (MacDonald) rebound creates potential trouble."
I'm sure it's just something that will come with more time at the NHL level and some good Sudsie goalie coaching.

Any Questions, Comments or Bonehead Calls Should Be Directed to Your Resident Referee at or the Comments Section.

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