Focus on Caufield and Suzuki’s elite shots
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Among them are Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. The former has found his elite goalscoring touch, as evidenced by his slew of goals since mid-February, while the latter has already set a new career high for goals scored.
But what makes shooting them so dangerous?
We spoke to Tim Turk, an NHL skills coach with a Ph.D. scoring to dissect killer shots from Suzuki and Caufield.
Before we dive in, we need to establish one thing: what makes a good shot in the NHL?
According to Turk, there are many indicators. One is body position, where the hips are in relation to the shoulders. An NHL sniper appears to “explode” out of his chest. This allows them to generate an incredible amount of power in conjunction with an ultra-fast release.
The speed at which their hands move a short distance and the readiness of the puck are other signs of good shooting abilities.
“No matter how they get the puck, it automatically goes to a prepared position, so they can handle it more easily,” Turk explained. “Guys who take up less space to shoot, are more deceptive and can explode in certain areas, that’s what makes them successful.”
There’s also the matter of anticipating potential roadblocks, such as defenders trying to close off certain shooting lanes.
“You have to read everything and react to this [the defense] done,” Caufield said. “The holes are constantly opening up because of the way the defenders move their sticks.
According to Turk, stride formation, which involves a left-handed player stepping their left leg back, and vice versa, has accounted for more than 70% of “clean” goals since 2003.
Now that we’ve established what makes a good shooter, let’s take a look at some of Caufield’s and Suzuki’s goals.
March 5, 2022, [email protected]: Caufield strikes first
Video: [email protected]: Caufield scores his 7th goal in the last 11 games
“For me, it’s elite,” Turk said. “There is a pause in stride formation. His leg kicks back, then the inside drag comes to dodge the defender’s stick. It’s incredible preparation from Caufield.
Caufield quickly adapts to the defender’s changing stick position to find some free ice in a crowded area.
But there’s always the matter of generating a ridiculous amount of force in a shot, paired with a sneaky release designed to haunt a goalie’s nightmares for months at a time.
“It’s a great example of him shooting from his hip, almost like a cowboy pulling a gun out of its holster. It’s so fast, it’s unbelievable,” Turk said. “Watch his elbow. A lot of players shoot him in, he shoots it right next to his hip. That sideways action is really good. It’s like a catapult, but on an angle.”
Besides generating a lot of whip, when Caufield keeps his arms in a tight formation, it also removes a big tell. Goalies tend to recognize daylight between the forearm and the biceps. This tight arm formation allows Caufield not to warn the goalkeeper of the upcoming shot.
Beyond a deceptive exit and adaptation to the situation, the icing on the cake of Caufield’s sniping is how often he changes the angle of attack of his shot. There are only slight angle changes on his stick, but it’s enough to completely change the flight path the keeper is anticipating.
“When you shoot the puck, you don’t even have to worry about shooting hard,” Caufield said. It’s so difficult for goalkeepers to follow this type of shot. »
And finally, there’s the need for extreme precision, a natural skill that can certainly be supplemented with hours and hours of practice.
December 4, 2021, [email protected]: Suzuki ties 1-1
Video: [email protected]: Suzuki son in PPG
The first thing Suzuki does is send a clear message to his teammates that he is in a perfect shooting situation.
“You can see when he’s coming back, when he’s reestablishing his position, he’s got nothing but a headshot, and he’s clearly indicating he’s the best passing option,” said Turk said. “If you count the time the puck was on its blade until it hit the net based on where the pass came from, it’s sniper shooting here. Again we see the formation of the stride.
“At this level, in this situation, if you can put the puck there, you are elite. The keeper didn’t stand a chance.
But there is more than just a perfect shot.
Most shots will be saved or blocked, which in turn will lead to rebound opportunities. The key is to anticipate extended play beyond the initial shot.
“Even if he doesn’t score, he’s going to create a rebound or another high scoring opportunity,” Turk said. “He gets straight to the point. It’s perfect. Suzuki is such a smart player, it shows in every game.”
Suzuki uses his foresight and intelligence to not only anticipate and adapt to coverage from opposing defenders, but he’s also in an ideal position to capitalize on any opportunity that may arise.
There are certain characteristics that the next generation of NHL snipers tend to share; talent, anticipation, good hip and shoulder position, a penchant for disguising their release, attention to detail and, above all, an endless thirst for improvement.
That’s a lot to process, which puts a strain on the player’s ability to analyze information while ensuring their natural talent is at the forefront of their decision-making.
Luckily for Canadiens fans, when it comes to putting all the pieces of the sniper puzzle together, they’ll have two great examples on display for the foreseeable future.