Technically the title is misleading as clearly, sometimes, there are poor shots. However, the majority of time, a shot registered on goal is a good thing. After all, you can't score a goal without a shot unless you get a deflection off a pass or a skate. But you get the point that 95% of all goals are scored because someone has to shoot the puck. The more accurate title for this article should probably be there is no such thing as a bad shot as long as you shoot with a purpose.
What does shooting with a purpose mean? Shooting with a purpose means taking a shot with the intent of either scoring or putting a teammate in the position to score.
As a young player, everyone thinks solely about shooting to score. However, as players mature, they understand there are plenty of situations where their shot is not an attempt to score but rather a strategic decision to improve a teammate's chance to score.
There probably is no better example of shooting with a purpose than putting a puck on goal to create a rebound chance for a teammate intentionally.
As illustrated in the video below, then NY Ranger Derick Brassard takes a pass at the blue line and fires a "purposeful shot" on the net. Knowing the defenseman and a back-checking forward are keeping him wide and to the outside, a very low-scoring percentage opportunity considering it's a one-against-two situation, Brassard fires the puck on the net. Brassard takes the only opportunity presented to him ... shoot. We assume Brassard spotted his teammate streaking down the middle when he fired this shot, creating a play for his teammate, As seen, Brassard fired a low, hard shot off the goalie's outside pad facilitating the rebound directly to his teammate. His teammate pounces on the rebound and pops home an easy goal. Never does Brassard think his shot is a goal-scoring opportunity but rather an opportunity to put a teammate in a good position to score. This play represents a perfect example of what shooting with purpose means.
One point to note here, and as aforementioned, we assume Brassard saw his teammate heading for the net when he uncorked his slapshot. However, let's assume for a second he didn't, and this happened to be a lucky play. Either way, Brassard's shot intent resulted in what he wanted, which was to create a rebound and turn a possible nothing play that was well-defended into a potential opportunity with the rebound,
This video also presents a teaching opportunity to stress another point we constantly harp on: player communication. In this situation presented above, we assume or hope Brassard saw his teammate streaking to the net, and this play developed out of good communication rather than happenstance. However, the communication onus to let Brassard know he is open and heading to the net in this situation is on Brassard's teammate. Communication in this situation removes any chance Brassard does not see his teammate and also helps reinforce the idea that a shot on the net (to produce a rebound) is the right play to make.
For more on the importance of communication, read our post, On ice communication is vital to a player's success.
Another great example of a shot with intent is firing the puck from a bad angle or from behind the net in a purposeful attempt to bank the shot in off the goalie. As illustrated in the video below, former Winnipeg Jet Dustin Byfuglien sees former Carolina Hurricane Goalie Cam Ward doesn't have the post sealed off, so he intentionally and purposefully banks the shot from behind the net off Ward's pads. Did Byfuglien know for sure this was going in? Of Course not, but there he knew, at minimum, there were two possible outcomes there ... (a) he gets lucky, and it goes in, or (b) it creates a loose puck scramble in front of the net where a teammate may have the ability to make a play. Either way, it's a calculated shot attempt as opposed to what may appear to be, on the surface, a desperate or ill-advised attempt.
This type of shot used to be considered a bad shot; however, as we have witnessed over and over in countless games in the last ten years, this type of shot can either catch a goalie by surprise or, at the very minimum, create an opportunity for a teammate.
So next time you're on the ice, remember that not every shot has to be an attempt to put one "bar down."
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