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T.J. Oshie likes possible shootout rule change

Capitals forward takes NHL.com through routine that makes him one of League's best at one-on-one competition

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Among the topics discussed at the NHL general managers meeting in Toronto on Tuesday was possibly changing to international hockey rules in the shootout, which would allow the same shooter to take repeated attempts after the third round.

Under the current NHL shootout rule, every skater dressed must shoot once before one can take a second attempt. The potential rule alteration is expected to be revisited in more depth when the GMs meet again in Boca Raton, Florida, in March.

Count Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie among those who would love to see the NHL make the switch.

"I think shootouts are fun, so I would definitely be in favor of that," he said. "Obviously, I'm a little biased because for me it's pretty exciting."

It's no surprise Oshie likes the idea. He is among the best in the League at the shootout.

The 29-year-old's prowess in the tiebreaker made him a national hero at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after he scored four times on six attempts against goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the United States' eight-round victory against host Russia in the preliminary round.

Since joining the Capitals in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on July 2, 2015, Oshie is 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) on shootout attempts, including 1-for-1 this season. Oshie is 36-for-66 (54.5 percent) in his career.

Among active players with at least 10 shootout attempts, only Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks (18-for-30/60 percent) and Brandon Pirri of the New York Rangers (10-for-17/58.8 percent) have better career numbers. Riley Nash (6-for-11) is tied with Oshie. Oshie's 17 game-deciding goals in shootouts tie him for the most in NHL history with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Frans Nielsen of the Detroit Red Wings.

Although Oshie's natural ability is a big part of his success, he also has a process he's honed and refined through years of work.

"At the end of every practice when you're a kid, you go to the red line and do shootouts," he said. "My deke to my forehand (move), I've been doing that since I was like 12."

With help from Oshie and Capitals goaltenders Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer (who have faced him in practice but never in a game), NHL.com breaks down some of the secrets to Oshie's shootout success.

Video: T.J. Oshie: Shootout specialist

 

The approach

Oshie now begins every shootout attempt by curling out to his right before cutting back into the middle and skating down the slot. He used to take more direct path to the net, but changed his approach at some point without realizing it.

During the Olympic shootout against Russia, it occurred to Oshie that starting the same way every time prevented Bobrovsky from getting an early read on what move he'd use.

"After I made the first one, I was like, 'I'm going to do this every time so [Bobrovsky] doesn't know,'" Oshie said. "So, since then, I've done the same thing. Earlier, I'd go straight down (the slot). I don't know when I changed, but mentally I didn't realize it until that shootout."

Even under the current NHL shootout rules, using the same approach every time helps Oshie even if the goalie knows where he's going.

"Usually he ends up right in the middle somehow," Holtby said. "He tries to get the goalie to move with him to try to mess up his angle a little bit rather come right down the middle. He's really good at it."

Video: WSH@NJD: Oshie uses a wrist shot in the shootout

 

The speed

Some players skate in at high speed. Some start out fast and then slow down. Others go slow the entire way.

Oshie prefers the slower approach.

"It's what you're most comfortable with," Oshie said. "The speed I go in is the speed I'm most comfortable going in at. I feel like that gives me enough time to read, react and, if everything looks good, to go ahead as planned."

The shooter's approaching speed can dictate what type of move he makes.

"When you're going fast, typically it's harder to go side to side and still get [the puck] up," Oshie said. "When you're going slow, you have that extra split second to get it up. Typically guys that deke when they go fast, either go quick to get it up or they beat the goalie to the post and slide it on the ice."

 

The decision

Oshie has "somewhat of an idea" what move he'll use before he begins each attempt.

"Then, between the top of the circles and the hash marks I usually decide," he said.

That decision is usually based on what he sees from the goaltender in that moment rather something he saw in pre-scouting on video.

"I used to watch a lot of video and I ended up getting stuck on what goalies were doing before and not really thinking about the fact that they're probably watching me and trying to get me to do something different," he said.

 

The moves

Oshie said he has four "go-to" moves and several more that he's "messing around with."

"It's instinctual maybe that I just stick with the main four," he said. "But there's probably a good eight other ones I can do and I just don't. I feel like it's unnecessary for me."

Oshie used all four of his "go-to" moves against Bobrovsky in the Olympic shootout. Although it was more than two and a half years ago, he can recall without hesitation what he did on each attempt.

"I went three five-hole," he said. "I went one deke-forehand, one deke-backhand and one deke-forehand quick upstairs."

Oshie scored on all three of his five-hole attempts. He also scored on his deke-forehand move. He looked to have Bobrovsky beat with his deke-backhand, but Bobrovsky reached back with his stick to deflect the puck wide.

Video: WSH@CBJ: Oshie's head fake earns him shootout goal

Oshie also appeared to have Bobrovsky beat on his deke-forehand quick-upstairs move before shooting high over the crossbar.

"He has a lot of different moves that look the same," Holtby said. "If you do one thing, it usually opens up his other move. He knows where the sweet spot is to shoot where you can't really react and you're not really big enough to block space. A lot of guys have trouble finding that, but he has a pretty good idea of where that is."

To further confuse the goaltender, Oshie has variations within each move, such as sometimes using a fake shot or a quick stickhandle and other times leaving them out.

"His play deception is unbelievable," Grubauer said. "He makes it so hard for us goalies to read. It doesn't matter if he's coming in slow or with speed. He has really good hands."

When Oshie was with the Blues, he would practice his shootout moves almost every game day at the end of the morning skate. With the Capitals he practices them "every couple weeks."

"It's the one time it's just you and the goalie one vs. one and someone is going to win," Oshie said. "I feel like the competition side in you comes out when it's something like that."

Although practicing the shootout against Oshie has the potential to get frustrating for Holtby and Grubauer, they say it's helpful.

"It makes you more patient. It exposes your holes," Holtby said. "He can help you change. It's always different facing guys that don't have the skill level. They're almost as tough to stop as guys with a lot of skill. But he has that perfect mix where he knows how to use it and he's very good at reacting to goalies."

Every once in a while, Oshie will try out a new move in practice, but mostly sticks with his main four in games.

"In the summer I'm always messing around and trying different things, doing different moves," he said. "My moves aren't necessarily highlight-reel. I feel like they're just ways I can get the puck in the net. There's a lot of guys in the League that are probably a lot more fun to watch than I am."

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