The puck sprung loose behind Boston’s last man on the power play, and the home team immediately knew they were in trouble with one of the NHL’s best skaters defending against them on the ice. Patrice Bergeron did his best to hang with him, but it wasn’t a fair race. There was no way he would catch Byron.
A few feet separated Bergeron from the Habs forward, but the advantage wasn’t big enough. Byron propelled himself forward and leveled with the Bruins centre in one second. A second later, he was already ahead of him with the wide lane open. His quickness allowed him to take a few more strides than Bergeron in the time they had to cover the distance to the loose puck. Byron picked it up, cut in front of a trailing Bergeron and roofed the puck past Tuukka Rask glove side.
But it’s not all about quickness for Byron. He has great form and is a very efficient skater. He keeps his back straight, has a deep knee bend, and goes full extension on every stride. Little things like holding the stick with one hand, allowing for freer arm movements (rather than the two Bergeron used), or bringing his feet all the way under his centre of gravity on every stride instead of a little bit wide, can be small boosts to momentum and make a big difference in the end.
It’s rare we get to see a pure race that directly leads to a goal in the NHL. It was the perfect theatre for Byron to showcase the amazing gift that he has.
Here’s a breakdown of Paul Byron’s skating in his breakaway goal.