Most goals in the NHL, or any league at any age level, are scored within 5 feet of the net. During practice, drills are often set up in a ‘flow’ like routine where players make passes & skate to the coach’s script finishing with a shot without any pressure from inside the circles. Very rarely is a goal scored where the offensive player has 2 seconds to load & release his/her shot without an opponent trying to block, hit or defend.
Watching the first round of the NHL playoffs, players are fighting for the space five feet in front of the net every shift. Most players can’t play on the peripheral and use their Ovechkin like 1 timer to score. Instead, they establish position within the 5 feet around the next, or they ‘time’ their movement within this dangerous area to arrive when the puck is delivered.
Every player wants to score more goals and this scoring tactic of tips & deflections is another way to get on the scoreboard to help your team win. We will break down players doing the following:
- Tip while screening (the most important as the player takes away the goalie’s eyes before attempting to tip the puck)
- A redirect from the side of the net
- A high tip from a shot-pass
- A high tip in mid air (when our player times his arrival into the scoring area & uses his incredible eye-hand coordination to tip the aerial puck into the net)
Tip while Screening Goalie - Kerfoot
Here the offensive player establishes a ‘net front presence’ while his/her team has possession of the puck in the offensive zone. This ‘net front presence’ serves many purposes; two of the most important are to take away the goalie’s vision of the puck & to have the ability to win pucks that are rimmed behind the net. If you are not quite sure where to go in the offensive zone, get to the net & be prepared to fight for that area as the puck needs to eventually arrive to score goals.
Kerfoot sets up right in front of the Tampa Bay Goal. Giordanno delivers the puck to the net and although it may have been going wide of the nice, Kerfoot gets his stick slightly above the pucks path to knock it down and back towards the net. He does this all while not allow the Tampa Bay goaltender to get a clean look at the puck coming in from the point.
How to Practice
After practice, get a teammate/coach and stand on the red line. Point your stick at your teammate/coach while they wrist pucks (10 feet away) to either your forehand or backhand. Your goal is to knock the puck down & back towards the red line. Once you can get 5 in a row on your forehand & backhand, have your coach/teammate wrist the pucks randomly to either side so you must react to where the puck is delivered.
Redirect from side of net - Kreider
Kreider has scored most of his goals this season from right around this area. His chemistry with Fox, Zibanajeb, and Panarin allowed his to hit the 50 goal mark last season. I bet if we went to watch the Rangers practice, he spends time every day working on different ways to tip and deflect pucks around the net.
In most instances, Kreider would first establish his ‘net front presence’ and from there slide off to the side of the net. This can be difficult for the goalie as he is now focusing on the puck & with the threat of an opponent just off his post. In this instance, Kreider settles in to a spot just off the side of the net and presents the blade of his stick using it almost as an invitation for his D-man to see that he wants the puck now. Fox weights his pass perfect with just the right amount of pace so Kreider can just open up the face of his blade & allow the puck to roll right up his blade and into the back of the net.
How to Practice
Just like Kreider, step off to the side of the net and experiment with your teammate sending shot-passes on the ice from different positions. Almost like the final contact with a golf ball, the timing and strength of the hands (lower hand especially) as the puck arrives will dictate where the pucks eventually goes.
High Tip – Shot Pass – Bergeron
In this video, a net front presence has been establish so we know that they goalie is struggling to see the puck. This high tip still may be a goal without the screen, but I recommend (as would your coaches) that having a player in front of the goalie is always a great idea.
Bergeron sees the screen provided by his teammate & can also process that his teammate with the puck has his head up & is looking where to deliver the puck. Does Marchand shoot the puck to score, recycle the puck back to his D man at the point…or does he see Bergeron presenting his stick & decides for a shot pass right off Bergeron’s blade? Bergeron makes sure to slow down & time his movement so he has a proper angle as well as space from other defenders. Much like Kreider, Bergeron must have strong hands & almost meet the puck as it arrives with small jab of the hands. Along with the angle if his body & stick blade, he can then attempt to re-direct this pass into the net.
How to Practice
Have a teammate stand in line with the dots about 5-10 feet inside the blueline with lots of pucks. Skate through the ‘Bergeron spot’ as in the video & make sure your stick blade is an invitation for your teammate; his goal is to shoot (shoot-pass) the puck off of your blade. Focus on your forehand side only and create a slow but continuous circle trying to find the correct angle of the blade, speed and hand strength.
High Tip – mid air - Matthews
This is a special goal by a special player. There is no playbook on how/where to practice a goal like this. Knock pucks out of the air, time your arrival into the ‘Bergeron space’, present your blade and maybe just maybe you’ll be able to knock a puck mid air off a wrist shot into the back of the net. For me, I’ll just tip my hat to an incredible goal.