There’s a drill that has become something of a regular sight at Capitals practices during Dale Hunter’s tenure as coach, and it has everything to do with scoring the ugly, dirty, greasy goals in front of the net.
They’re goals not unlike the three tallies off tips and deflections that the Flyers scored against them earlier this week.
It’s not really a surprise that Hunter, who never hesitated to crash the net and get his nose dirty wreaking havoc on opposing defensemen and netminders as a player, is advocating the same approach from the Capitals.
“You look at his career, I don’t know how many goals he scored total, but I bet you 70 percent of them were pretty ugly goals,” Jason Chimera said as a compliment to his coach. “He was always one of those guys who would get around the net and get those garbage goals; that’s where you’re going to score. That’s where a lot of my goals have come from this year; in the paint right in front.
“You’ve just got to keep on working — that’s where you get your goals, from Ovi on down that’s where you score,” Chimera continued. “You’ve got to work to get there.”
In practice, the drill starts with a three-on-two and then shots from the point as the remaining players jam up the space in front of the net in search of the odd rebound or chance redirection.
It’s a pretty simple theory, as Brooks Laich now famously said back in 2008: “If you want money, go to the bank. If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net.”
Many of the league’s top offensive talents excel of their ability to be creative based on what an opponent gives them, and the Capitals’ highly-touted scoring chances are no different. When asked if there’s been any hesitation to get Washington’s top forwards to simplify things in search of the nuts-and-bolts, no-frills goal, Hunter simply said he wants pucks in the net however possible, but that the game can necessitate the less than glamorous tallies.
“You have to get goals whichever way you can get them, in front of the net, on the rush,” Hunter said. “But anymore with teams playing the defensive systems, you’ve got to earn them the hard way — that’s in front of the net.”
En route to a 5-1 win over the Capitals this week, Philadelphia benefited from three goals that were the result of deflecting point shots. Wayne Simmonds and Andrej Meszaros redirected shots, while another wound up going off the stick of Mathieu Perreault before it made its way into the net. It might have been friendly fire, but it counts just the same and the best way to create that kind of scoring luck is to cause the traffic in front.
“They tip three shots, get three goals and that’s the difference in the hockey game and we’ve got to learn from that,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’ve got to make sure we learn something from that loss. Not just go and do the same mistakes.”
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