Not surprisingly, everyone has his or her own theory about the shootout. Some say it’s all about speed, others claim you need to start wide and come in at an angle. Me? I recommended watching movies to learn the subtleties and gain the mental edge necessary for success in deciding NHL games. Here are some of the all-time greats that I believe could teach the Canucks how to improve in the shootout: DEAN YOUNGBLOOD
Youngblood (Rob Lowe) set the bar for precision in hockey over 20 years ago in the movie that bore his name.
With three seconds left in the final game of the OHL playoffs, Youngblood is awarded a penalty shot that can win the game for the Hamilton Mustangs. A quick circle at centre ice culminates in Youngblood kicking the puck up to his stick as he makes his way in on goal. A right-handed shot, he fakes slap shot, passes the puck behind his back to his left skate before kicking it back to his stick which he then uses to roof the puck behind a thoroughly confused Bombers’ goaltender!
Brilliant move by Youngblood, who then caps off his night by beating down tough-guy Carl Racki as time expires. No wonder he was carried off the ice by his teammates.
*Footnote: Roberto Luongo
is doing just fine and does not need to study the form of Keanu Reeves, who played the Mustangs’ goalie and did his own stunts. CHARLIE CONWAY
Think The Mighty Ducks is a kids’ movie? Think again. A young Conway (Joshua Jackson) also gets a chance to play hero when he too is awarded a penalty shot in the championship game as time runs out (what a weird coincidence!?!). Though Conway isn’t as good with his feet as Youngblood, he throws caution to the wind by executing his shot with no helmet on!
A simple yet effective forehand, backhand, forehand move is deployed before Conway buries the biscuit top shelf. Ducks win the championship and Jackson begins his real-life walk down the Yellow Brick Road that ends at Dawson’s Creek, where he eventually gets to make out with Katie Holmes. FAST EDDIE FELSON
Whether it’s in The Hustler or The Color of Money, Felson displays a vast array of shots from every conceivable angle that could inspire some creative new moves on ice.
Felson (Paul Newman) is a pool shark who’s game is so airtight that he defeats slick-shooting legend Minnesota Fats (and as the Canucks know, beating Minnesota in a shootout is no easy task!). Years later, he imparts his wisdom to up-and-comer Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise), who in turn inspires Fast Eddie to make a comeback.
Eddie proves in both films that he’s at his best when the big money is on the line, and this study in mental toughness can only benefit the Canucks when it comes time to decide a game. Felson’s one loss to Fats in The Hustler will also teach the local lads a valuable lesson: Don’t get drunk when you are playing. JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH
Whether he’s twirling the twine from long range or jamming one in from in tight, Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) certainly lives up to the title of He Got Game. As the best high school basketball prospect in the country, Shuttlesworth puts on a dazzling display of athletic moves that when translated to the ice would overwhelm even the stingiest of goaltenders.
Admittedly, part of the reason I am suggesting this movie is the hope that the Sedins will see it and decide to grow afros like the one Denzel Washington sports in the flick. That would be amazing and render even Mike Commodore extremely jealous. SHOOTER MCGAVIN
The guy’s name is Shooter; need I say more? Although portrayed as a villain in Happy Gilmore, McGavin (Christopher Macdonald) has the style to win over fans and take the excitement level at GM Place to a whole new level.
When he makes his shot (which is pretty much always), he points his fingers like guns before declaring “Shooter!” and giving himself the thumbs up as he collects paycheque after paycheque. Shooter can win with his power game (ie slap shot) or his finesse game (translation: deke), but it should be noted that only two-thirds of the movie should be shown in Canucks’ film study as McGavin struggles amidst adverse conditions in the final tournament.
However, the tail end of the movie may be informative for Markus Naslund who could learn something from Happy (Adam Sandler) in the captain’s on-going quest to get more on his slap shot.
I’m sure even hockey purists will embrace this alternative form of skill development as the Canucks try to improve on their proficiency in the shootout. When Vancouver begins to dominate this game-determining skills contest, it will become apparent that it’s no coincidence that Scotty Bowman and I share the same first name.