I've been thinking a lot about shootouts recently, which has led some other very smart people to jump in with their own thoughts. This time, let's take a look at Carey Price's first signature win on the international stage: the semi-final shootout against Team USA in the 2007 U20 World Junior Championship.
What We Remember
Peter Mueller is the 14th shooter. He come in with speed, tries to fake out with with a head shake, but the Canadiens' draft pick is unmoved, closes up his five-hole and makes a calm pad save before being mobbed by his teammates.
Carey Price: Future Great
Peter Mueller: Future Heartbreak
This is what we remember, and the way history has since played out confirms and reinforces our initial hunch. But this moment really isn't representative of the whole story. In fact, none of this actually should have happened.
What we don't remember (or chose to forget)
Below is a copy of the IIHF WJC shootout rules. Notice the second bullet point:
The second bullet point, above all else, sets the WJC shootout procedures apart from that of the NHL. It allows players such as Jonathan Toews, Peter Mueller, Bryan Little, Patrick Kane and Jack Johnson to shoot more than once, but also mandates that the order in which the teams shot be reversed after three shooters, so ABABABBABAB etc.
The reason for this small wrinkle in the rule is simple: the team which shoots first (in this case, Canada) has a 60-40 statistical edge in winning probabilities. Having the second team shoot twice in a row serves to cancel out that difference. But the referees in this game forgot to implement that rule. Canada got lucky, and the US was cheated.
So, short of saying that a Canada win would not have happened, we should at least remember that the win should not have happened as we witnessed it.
With that piece of housekeeping out of the way, let's look at some goals.
Breaking Down Film
Here is the full footage of the shootout. Take a look, and try to remember what sticks out to you.
1: Steve Downie (CAN) vs. Jeff Frazee (USA)
Downie is the first shooter for Canada. He comes down the middle with speed, fakes a shot short-side (this will become important later on), then pulls the puck on his backhand. Frazee is beat , but manages to get his goal stick on the puck to make the save.
2: Patrick Kane (USA) vs. Carey Price (CAN)
Oddly enough, Kane tries the exact same move as Downie, with the same result. But already, we see how much better Carey Price is at moving laterally and taking the bottom of the net away from his opponents. Save
3: Bryan Little (CAN) vs. Frazee
Whether it's in soccer or in hockey, the bulk of the pressure in the shootout is on the shooter. Or at least, it seems that way because they control the action and because it's a lot more obvious when they get tight and do something ill-advised.
But goalies get nervous too! Notice how Frazee has temporarily forgotten Rule 1 of goaltending: "You have to be square to the puck."
He square up to Little's skates instead, leaving a gaping hole on the glove side, which the Canadian exploits. Goal.
4: Peter Mueller (USA) vs. Price
The Americans are once again going with the exact same move as the Canadians on the previous shot. And it works, because Price is just as nervous as Frazee, and leaves a little space on the glove side. Goal.
5: Jonathan Toews (CAN) vs. Frazee
Low blocker side is tough to cover for a goaltender. Frazee is squared up well enough, but Toews beats him with a laser. Notice his approach - he will skate down the ice the same way on all three of his attempts, same as Mueller. Toews will score in three different ways, but this consistency in approach makes his intentions harder to read.
6: Jack Johnson (USA) vs. Price
Johnson seems like an unusual choice for the shootout, but the big defenseman keeps it simple, sees Price is not square, and wires it short side. Once again, the Americans repeat the same move the Canadians just used, with identical results.
7: Little vs. Frazee II
This is where Patrick Kane should have shot again for Team USA, but no one was paying attention, I guess. So Little is up against Frazee.
The funny thing is, while most people remember this shootout for the seemingly endless duel between Toews and Mueller, they forget that Little and Kane were the original "Chosen Ones." Toews and Mueller only came to the forefront once both of their teammates missed their second attempts.
Little skates the same way he did in the first time, but now he fakes the wrist shot and goes backhand. Frazee is dead to rights but gets his stick out and pokes the puck away. Save.
8: Kane vs. Price II
If Kane scores here, he gives Team USA the win. He uses a slower and straighter approach than on his first shot, and Carey Price just squares up and waits him out. Usually, when both the shooter and the goalie react, the goalie has the edge. Kane was looking for Price to move first, but Price never did.
9: Toews vs. Frazee II
Frazee is not square to the puck. Toews goes short side.
10: Mueller vs. Price II
Mueller uses the exact same move as the first time, but put a little more mustard on his first head fake. Price bites and puts his right leg down, which prevents him from pushing over and covering the glove side. Goal.
11: Andrew Cogliano (CAN) vs. Frazee
Cogliano keeps if simple. Frazee is just not real good at covering mid-height shots on the short side. Goal.
12: Johnson vs. Price II
Same move for Johnson, same result as the first attempt. Maybe Price isn't real good at covering the short side either...
Maybe more NHLers should shoot instead of deke on their shootout attempts?
13: Toews vs. Frazee III
For the third time in a row, Toews uses the same run-up. Except this time he fakes the short side shot, and goes across the crease. For the first time, Frazee does a pretty good job pushing across, but the puck trickles through between his pad and blocker. Goal.
14: Mueller vs. Price III
The Mueller approach looks good. Price is square, gives him nothing to aim at, and stands his ground. Mueller hesitates and tries to slip it through five-hole. Save. Canada is going to the Gold Medal game.
Jack Han is the Video & Analytics Coordinator for the McGill Martlet Hockey team. He also writes occasionally about the NHL for Habs Eyes on the Prize. You can find him on Twitter or on the ice at McConnell Arena.