Shootouts: you’re doing it wrong.
Over the past few years, Alex Burrows has established himself as one of the Canucks’ surest things on breakaways and penalty shots, most of the time by virtue of his “Blue Steel”, his go-to backhand move. We’ve celebrated it several times here on this blog, most notably in this post, which features a compilation of every single instance in which Burrows has used the move successfully.
Burrows is known for the move at this point, but as he himself said, it doesn’t matter — if he does it right, he’ll score. But it’s not entirely true. After all, the move only works because there’s still a possibility Burrows might do something else. If his going backhand shelf was 100% assured, goaltenders would simply overcommit to the right post and wait to get hit in the chest.
All that said, you can understand why Burrows might occasionally want to give goaltenders another look, and he certainly did so Monday night versus the Los Angeles Kings. His move — which involved a spin and a stutter-step before a hit post — seemed forgettable at the time, but a day later, people are still talking about it, debating both its legality and ridiculousness. So let’s take another look.
Here’s the video, courtesy hockey blogging godfather Greg Wyshynski:
This move raises two burning questions. Let’s investigate them both.
What the Hell was that?
It’s not quite as bad the second and third time you watch it, but that first time… man. Maybe it’s because we’re used to somewhat more fluid spin-o-ramas, such as those perpetrated by Mason Raymond and, once, Ryan Shannon, but this didn’t look pretty.
I’d suggest part of that isn’t Burrows’s fault. Jonathan Quick tracked the puck beautifully, and I suspect that Burrows thought the Kings netminder would be a little further from the left post when he finished the rotation. Instead, when Burrows gets back on the puck, Jonathan Quick is down and square. I’ll bet that, if goaltenders always read the spin-o-rama this well as Quick does here, a lot of shooters would look as foolish as Burrows does.
But Quick is helped along somewhat by the fact that Burrows does the spin on the forehand, and rather than taking the puck with him, he actually leaves it trickling along the ice while he spins alone. That makes it a lot easier for Quick to track.
So now Burrows is in a spot of trouble, but he doesn’t give up on the play. Instead, he tries a little shimmy-shake, hoping to move Quick away from the post. It almost works, as Quick extends to take away the top part of the net, leaving a sliver of room for Burrows to thread the puck through. But he hits the post.
This is, of course, a lot to occur in one shootout attempt. And really, you could argue that the spin-o-rama and the dekes are almost separate enough to qualify as two shootout attempts. It’s the Hobbit of shootout attempts — an overlong and ill-conceived take on a classic.
Even Burrows would agree that it was ridiculous. Let’s break down his reaction to watching the replay on the Jumbotron.
So Burrows sits down at the bench and begins to watch:
He sees the spin, and he’s like, “That’s not terrible.”
Watching everything that comes after the spin puts him off somewhat. His face develops a slight cringe. “Okay”, he thinks, “This is getting terrible.”
Then, finally, he reaches acceptance.
“That was terrible.”
But terrible though it might have been, it almost worked! An inch to the right and the Canucks are on the board in the shootout, at which point, the officials would have had to make a controversial call.
Would this monstrosity have counted?
A large part of the debate the day after has revolved around whether or not Burrows’s shootout move as illegal. Jonathan Quick sure didn’t think so, and even though the puck didn’t go in, he still felt the need to argue with the official.
He was on the wrong end of the argument, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. According to the rules, the puck simply needs to remain in motion, and because it never came to a complete stop on this attempt — it was still trickling along when Burrows left it behind to go for a twirl — it would have been a good goal.
Former NHL official Kerry Fraser elaborates:
I like that he puts “creative” in scare quotes, like when you change your look and someone calls it “unique”.
As we closely watch the vis of Alexandre Burrows remove his stick from the puck to perform his version of the spin-o-rama, keep your eye focused on the puck (especially from the reverse angle replay) and you will see that the puck does continue with slight movement toward the goal line. Burrows regained contact with the puck and then stick-handled prior to ripping a shot off the crossbar. Everything that Alex did, including the ever so slight forward motion of the puck, were well within the current rules.
So there’s that. Cringe-inducing but legal, like pretty much everything Hugh Hefner does.
In closing, as we often do, we’re giving the hammer to Roberto Luongo:
Almost had him……… twitter.com/strombone1/sta…
—Strombone (@strombone1) January 29, 2013
Here’s hoping Burrows gets back to “Blue Steel”, and that we never have to see “The Hef” again.Tags: Alex Burrows, video