As told to: Dave Bidini
How many times do you see a player wind up and slap the puck 100 miles an hour and the goalie makes a routine save?
First, think like a goalie. He is picking up the projection of your stick as it goes over your head and using the follow through of the stick to pick up the puck.
Why did Bobby Hull score so many goals? Yes, he had a great shot, but remember how he used to shoot? He brought his stick around his back so the goalie couldn’t pick up his stick or the angle of where the puck was going.
Add that great, big banana curve that would make the puck jump all over the place and it’s no wonder that goalies playing without masks would drink a lot.
Release release release
Phil Esposito couldn’t raise the puck from the blueline and hit the net but he scored over 700 goals.
First, he was so big that you couldn’t move him away from the front of the net. Second, he could get his shot away lightning fast. The puck would be on his stick and in the net before you knew it. Dave Andreychuk and Tim Kerr were similar players.
I worked with John Leclair in Montreal for two years. John wanted to learn and he wanted to work and he put a lot of time into “quick release” drills. It didn’t help us much in Montreal but it really helped the Flyers!
You have to think like you’re going to get a least three shots a game so try to shoot differently each time.
Lafleur, Lemaire and I had three totally different, distinctive slap shots. Lafleur was right-handed and therefore had his power hand on the bottom of his stick. Because of that, he created so much torque or spin on the puck that it would come at the goalie like a concrete hammer.
Lemaire on the other hand would hit the puck off the heel of his blade which would make the puck skip. Just ask Tony Esposito when he beat him in ’73 with a slap shot from centre ice that started on the ice and skipped over his shoulder to win the Stanley Cup.
My shot would drop as I took a quick, low extension with almost no follow through which made the puck come at the goalie like a knuckleball. Most shooters hated when the ice got snowy and chippy near the end of the period — I loved it! The puck would bounce and go on its edge or start rolling. That’s when I would shoot — no knuckleball pitcher had as much movement on the ball as I had with the puck.
As Lafleur told me, if you don’t know where the puck is going, how can the goalie figure it out in a split second? If you were a goalie in the 70’s with very little padding, you had the three of us shooting which caused a lot of sleepless nights before coming into the Forum.
I was known to score garbage goals — really! I just happened to be in the right place.
You don’t score 424 goals by accident.
Let’s go through one of our Canadiens game situations and think a whole play through.
The play would start in our zone. The defence would usually come out the left side (my side) as they weren’t too sure what Guy would do with the puck in our zone.
So up my side it would come. Instead of passing to Lemaire, who was right beside me at centre, I would fire the puck as hard as I could to Lafleur who was starting to skate down the right side.
Now Lafleur is ahead of me flying down the ice (remember “Guy, Guy, Guy!”)
I could watch Guy skate down the ice with the puck like 18,000 fans but I would start skating as hard as I could to the other team’s blue line.
Now the fun starts. If Lafleur stops and curls around when he gets over the blue line, then I stay wide on the left side and away from all the other players — who are watching Guy — and slow down and wait for the pass which I know is coming.
When Guy wound up for a shot from the right side, I was never thinking about him scoring. If he did, great, but I was always thinking about the next play if he didn’t score.
So when I could see that he was shooting, there were two places that I might go and I had to make a split-second decision: was he shooting short side or five hole?
If he shot short side, then I had to skate over to my right where the rebound was going to come out. If I thought that he was shooting five hole, then I had to drive to the left-centre of the net. If he shot for the far post, or if the goalie stopped it, the rebound would wind up in the corner or around the boards.
Luck? No, except for getting to play with Lafleur!
Garbage goals? I don’t think so.
Just ask the players on our team how much they loved those “garbage goals” in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
DAVE BIDINI is the co-creator of ‘Slapshot Diaries’ as well as a writer/musician/columnist from Toronto and the author of 12 books.
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