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Breaking Down McMillan's Breakaway

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Carson McMillan made a game-winning breakaway goal on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche look easy. Going five-hole on a breakaway is anything but easy – it takes timing, patience and a good first deke. However, when the move is executed properly, the five-hole breakaway is more difficult to stop than a jackknifed semi going 65 mph in a blizzard.  

When McMillan stole the puck away from Colorado Avalanche’s Shane O’Brien on Tuesday night, McMillan could’ve had a 2-on-0 with Kyle Brodziak against Avs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. However, Brodziak must’ve known McMillan had a sweet little breakaway move tucked away in his repertoire because, if you watch the replay, Brodziak slows up to set a screen and can be seen yelling at McMillan to, “Take it!”

McMillan obliged.

What set up this goal was McMillan ‘selling’ shot. He is skating in on Giguere at a slight angle (McMillan’s left to right) and drops his shoulder as if he is going to fire the puck to the glove side. Being a right-handed shot, McMillan has the threat of going high to the goaltender’s glove side, which is a difficult shot to stop in its own right. He further sells shot by kicking his left leg in the air as if he was going for a drag-and-pull snap shot.

After McMillan makes the initial move, watch Giguere nearly go down, freeze up and quickly try to recover. He awkwardly stutter-steps like two people running into each other in a narrow hallway and trying to avoid that uncomfortable you-go-left-no-I’ll-go-left confrontation.

McMillan now has the advantage on Giguere. The key to breakaways is to try and make the other guy flinch first. After Giguere leans forward and has to regroup, this is when his five-hole opens up.

Instead of shooting immediately, McMillan shows more patience than a hunting polar bear waiting for a seal to surface, and lets his momentum carry him to Giguere’s left. As the goaltender slides across the crease, his blocker hand drops, pushing his goal stick forward. Leading with his goal stick, momentarily, creates a spot between the five-hole. The key for the forward is to wait for the hole to open up and then to shoot the puck, against the grain, behind the heel of the goalkeeper’s stick. Because Giguere holds his stick in his right hand, moving to his left opens a slot behind the blade of his stick.

McMillan pulls off the move masterfully:

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