Ryan Johansen says he's actually not particularly fond of the shootout, but the centerman still manages to find a way to go viral from time to time.
His attempt on Tuesday night in Detroit was another one of those moments - start with speed before decelerating to go seemingly about as slow as humanly possible on skates, and then waiting.
"That shootout move has just worked for me over the years, so I just kind of stick to it," Johansen said Wednesday after helping the Preds to a perfect 4-0 shootout record this season. "It's pretty fortunate for that one to get in last night. I didn't think it would have had a chance, but it was good to see it go in."
Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss was the victim on this occasion, and while Johansen's tally to begin the shootout may have been his most sluggish try yet, it was still effective.
Video: NSH@DET: Johansen buries goal in shootout
"To me, as long as it goes in, that's the thing that counts the most," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said of Johansen's shootout prowess. "But he's a big, rangy player, and sometimes when you come in, it's a little bit slower and he's got that wide reach that if you can get the goalie to bite a bit…and I think with Joey, he does have a lot of patience in the game. I think that's why he's a good puck distributor, and he kind of waited him out. It's a difficult move to go against, and the shootouts are hard, so the importance of each player either having a couple different moves, but really doing what they feel the most comfortable with, and I'm glad it went in last night."
Johansen says the move goes back to when he started his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets and he was having trouble finding success in shootouts. Eventually, he tried slowing things down, and while he's not successful with it every time, it's a beautiful - albeit unconventional - sight to see when it works.
"I've found success with it, and it's worked for me over the years, so no reason to change it up," Johansen said. "I'll keep using it every time I get the opportunity, and it's nice to contribute in the shootout and be a guy who can go out there and get it done… I know it frustrates goalies sometimes coming in that slow, and to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the shootout, but it's within the rules and it works for me, so I'm going to keep doing it until they tell me I can't."
Video: Johansen discusses his slow-motion shootout move
Johansen is 2-for-3 in shootout attempts this season, and without those four extra points Nashville has secured following a scoreless overtime session in 2021, they wouldn't be in their current playoff position. They don't occur often, but those statistics alone magnify the importance of being prepared if and when a shootout is necessary to decide the final outcome, and the Preds are always ready.
"We put a lot of time into it because obviously it's crucial points if you can win the shootout," Hynes said. "We do extensive research, we keep up to date, we have everyone's shootout percentages over the past few years… So, we know who's going to shoot when prior to the game. We have that done as a pre-scout sheet, and it's updated every game by our goaltending coach [Ben Vanderklok]. Lots of times, it might be guys that have had success against this type of goalie in the past, it might be the way that the goalie plays, but you do usually have your top four guys [in a] shootout order that we know we want to have."
On Tuesday, Nashville only needed Johansen and Roman Josi to prevail as both players scored on their attempts, but every once in a while, someone like Calle Jarnkrok has to win it in the fifth round as the Preds did back in March to finish their eight-game road trip in Dallas. At that point, other elements come into consideration.
Video: Coach Hynes talks shootouts and attacking Red Wings
"Then as you continue to work down your list, you take other things into account," Hynes said. "Are they hot? Have they scored recently? Have guys had success against a certain goaltender in the past? Do you want a shooter, or do you want a guy that dekes depending on how the goaltender plays? Even during the shootout, we're always on the radio headset up with our goaltending coach, and we put a lot of time and effort into it. You try to leave no stone unturned and give the team and give the players the best opportunity to have success in the shootout."
The Predators have executed those plans perfectly thus far this season, with Tuesday's triumph, Nashville has won 10 of their last 12 games. Those numbers are a long way from the much less desirable digits the Preds saw in colder months, and they just keep finding ways to win, no matter how fast or slow they have to skate to do so.
"I'm really proud of our group and how we've stuck together," Johansen said. "We continued to have each other's backs throughout the start that we obviously weren't too happy about and how we scratched and clawed to get ourselves back into a playoff spot. It's all about one game at a time right now. It's all about results and winning, and we're always trying to correct little things throughout our game to go out there and execute perfect hockey games, but the biggest thing is we're finding ways to win games. It's extremely hard to win in this League, especially late in the season, but we're having fun and we just want to keep moving forward and taking it one game at a time."
The Predators will start a three-game homestand at Bridgestone Arena this weekend. Tickets are available for the Sunday tilt against the Stars (at 7 p.m. CT) and Tuesday's game against the Lightning (at 7 p.m.). For this season only, fans are also able to add Lexus Lounge access to their tickets to enjoy a premium unlimited buffet and beverages. To purchase your tickets, visit NashvillePredators.com/tickets