Win the battles for the puck and there’s a strong chance you’ll win every hockey game. Nowhere is that battle more intense than in front of the net. Whether it’s setting a screen, redirecting a shot or picking up a rebound, the front of the net is a great place to score goals.
I like to time my arrival to the front of the net so I’m not a stationary target for a defenseman to tie me up. When I see the shot coming I’m heading for the net. It’s nice to get there while the goalie’s making the save so you can get a rebound before the defenseman has a chance to put a body or a stick on you.
You don’t need to plant yourself in front of the net to be effective. Learn to pick your spots and keep moving. It’s a lot tougher to tie a player up who’s not standing still. Don’t let the defenseman grab your stick. Keep it in front of you and out of his reach. I try to position myself in front of the net with my back to the defenseman so if there’s a rebound I can jump ahead of him and get to it.
Timing has a lot to do with scoring goals. So does luck. You have to guess where that shot’s coming from and where the rebound might go. Take a chance that you’ll be right and get body position on that defenseman so you can get to the puck before he can. If you grab a rebound, it’s a good idea to try to hold on to the puck and try to walk around the goalie because he or she is out there challenging the shot.
Remember This …
You can learn a lot from watching other players, and the NHL is not a bad place to start. Most skills come with time and practice. You learn a lot as you get older and learn from your mistakes. If you spend a lot of time in front of the net you learn little tricks of the trade to get position. Things can get pretty hectic in front of the net, but it’s a great place to light the lamp.
Some people call goals off deflections or rebounds “garbage goals.” Just remember, there’s nothing trashy about putting the puck in the net.