If you weren’t watching the Penguins vs Capitals game last night, you missed out! As expected, both teams came out of the gate flying. Both team captains lived up to the hype surrounding this intense rivalry. NHL’s top goal scorer Alexander Ovechkin lit the lamp and the league’s top point scorer contributed an assist.
But the real highlight came late in the third period. Two things we noticed, and hope you noticed right away if you were watching the game:
1) Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin’s open hip.
The final goal is a result of Malkin’s use of the open hip technique to freeze his defensemen, allowing time and space to make the pass up to Maatta. You can see, the Capital’s defensemen was closing on Malkin as he wrapped around the net. His stick was extended and approaching the passing lane. Malkin’s quick open hip forced the D-man to pivot for a fraction of a second, allowed Malkin’s body to protect the puck and dish it up the wing to Maatta.
This is a valuable technique that we practice at our camps and have highlighted before with Ryan Spooner.
2) Olli Maatta’s fake shot, side stride and quick wrist shot for the GWG.
Just as you think it can’t get any better for seeing our training methods in action, Olli Maatta fakes the one-timer from Malkin, freezing the forward coming out to play him. In one fluid motion as he comes down from his shot, he explodes laterally with the puck and releases a hard wrist shot. The fake one-timer not only froze the Capitals’ forward, but it changed the direction and path of his shot, which subsequently put the Capitals’ goalie out of position. GOAL!
These very small, yet very important techniques often go unrecognized by the untrained eye. For those of you who have been to our camps and worked on these techniques, it is astonishing to see how such simple plays can make a huge difference. Without the open hip or fake shot, this game likely would have gone into overtime… and we all know how lethal Ovechkin is in OT.