Because it’s Christmas time, and I’m in the mood for giving, I’ve decided to give Mike “The Ego” Babcock some free advice that, if adopted, will improve his current situation in a significant measurable way. No, no, no, don’t thank me. The pleasure is all mine.
Mike, if you insist on jamming a square peg into a round hole by forcing your all-skill lineup to play a grinders game, you could at least move William Nylander to the left wing. This one simple move would bring a quick end to Nylander’s season-long scoring drought.
Surely by now you’ve noticed that a right-hand shooter going down the right wing only has two options. He can shoot from a poor angle (the puck is on the right side of his body, closer to the boards, away from the net), or he can drive down low to the goal line and then buttonhook back towards the boards. But when he executes such a curl from that side of the rink, coming out of the curl, he is required to pass the puck off his backhand, which restricts his options.
When you move a right-hand shot to his off-wing, the options are many. If time and space allows, he can simply opt to shoot. But unlike a shot from the right wing where his angle is poor, a shot from the left wing will be taken from a much better angle (the puck is on the right side of his body, away from the boards, much closer to the middle of the rink where the net sits). Think not? Take a look here at Nylander’s recent goal against the Carolina Hurricanes. That goal could not have been scored from the right side.
He can also drive down low to the goal line and then buttonhook back towards the boards. But when he does so from that side, he ends up with the puck on his forehand, which makes playmaking and passing the puck a whole lot easier to execute.
Unlike a rush down the right side, he also has the option of going wide initially before suddenly making a sharp right angle cut towards the middle of the ice. When doing so, the puck remains on his forehand, which opens up a wide variety of playmaking options as well as new shooting lanes. If he tried the same down-and-in maneuver from the right wing, he would be forced to operate with the puck on his backhand which makes shooting a non-option from that far out.
In addition, carrying the puck down the off-wing makes it much easier for the puck carrier to look back over his shoulder for trailing teammates ready to jump into passing lanes.
Don’t take my word for it Mike. Take a few minutes to check out some of the one-zillion goals that Rocket Richard scored from his off-wing. Ditto for Alex Ovechkin. Ditto for the famous Red Army teams that forced every winger to lineup on the off-wing.