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Overanalyzing Jeff Skinner’s First Goal With The Sabres

Jeff Skinner’s first goal with the Sabres was impressive, but we break it down for you to get full appreciation

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the best move Jason Botterill made this past offseason was the acquisition of Jeff Skinner at the minor cost of a decent prospect and a few non first-round picks. In my opinion a steal of a trade for a no doubt top line winger that contributes at 5v5 at an elite level.

Unfortunately, through the teams first four games he had failed to score a goal. That changed Saturday night against the Coyotes in one of the first highlight reel goals of the season for the Sabres.

There’s so much that happened on this goal that I feel we should dig in and overanalyze every minute detail involved in making the goal happen.

Let’s first watch the goal from the main broadcast view.

The first thing Skinner does is take advantage of the Coyotes line change and take the open space on the far side of the ice. Then as he’s crossing the blue line to get onside he pivot’s backward to make sure he is facing the puck carrier, Rasmus Risotlainen, making it easier for him to read and react to whatever Ristolainen decides to do with the puck.

This next clip is my favorite part of the goal. After he crosses the blue line and sees that Ristolainen has flipped it in an attempt to set up him for a breakaway, Skinner keeps his vision facing the direction of the puck to make receiving the puck much easier. He accomplishes this by executing a hybrid Mohawk Turn, a skating move that is more commonly seen in figure skating, but can be utilized in hockey. Jeremy from How To Hockey has an excellent video demonstrating the Mohawk Turn in hockey.

In this play Skinner opens up in a Mohawk Turn position but continues to shift his feet to move forward and catch the puck in front him, allowing him to head straight to the net as soon as he gains control.

I can’t emphasize enough how impressive and effective this move was. Had he been in a typical forward skating position he would have been looking over his should as he attempted to catch the puck, making retrieval difficult, and if he had been skating backward he would’ve been able to receive the pass more easily, but then would’ve needed to pivot forward again, slowing down his rush to the net. Instead he was able to open himself up to retrieve the puck and be in a position to push forward to the net without an additional pivot move.

And finally as he makes his final approach to the net, Skinner doesn’t panic with a rolling puck and instead continues his stick handling making 3 quick deke moves before settling the puck on his back hand and roofing it over Raanta’s glove.

In addition to the stick handling moves, Skinner uses his edge work on his skates to continue straight, forcing the goaltender to make the first move, before finally cutting to the right and getting the puck across the front of the crease as soon as Raanta drops his left leg pad down on the ice.

This is easily my favorite non Jack Eichel goal from the past few seasons and it’s not really close. The attention to detail and quick thinking involved in the goal is something only elite hockey players can pull off.