David Steckel, Alex Semin and penalty shots
"Do we have to continue reading about nothing beyond another wasted year for the local NFL team?" a commenter wrote after one of my 482 blog posts about Donovan McNabb's benching. "I gained nothing from this bog post, I've heard darn near all the interviews quoted before they were posted here. I have not, however, read or heard about how Steckel felt on his penalty shot."
Well, if this is true, our commenter hasn't been looking very hard. Since David Steckel's first career penalty-shot goal Saturday night in Calgary, it's been written up here and here and here, at the very least. But I attempt to satisfy my readers, even my anonymous commenters, and so I asked Steckel yet again what it felt like to be out there alone with the puck.
"That was my first one ever, so it's not really gonna feel comfortable," he told me. "I mean, I was nervous as [heck]. I just didn't want to lose the puck going down the ice."
Steckel said he practices penalty shots whenever the team works on them as a group, which happens perhaps once a month. Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin work on penalty shots at the end of every pre-game warmup. Steckel does not.
"Obviously I was scared to death," he said. "I was glad that I got a penalty shot, because I was out on the PK for literally a minute. If it wasn't gonna be a penalty shot, I was gonna be really pissed, because I'm not out on the power play so I'm not gonna score a goal. So then when I looked over my shoulder, the ref pointed at center ice, and I was like sweet. Bruce bought me a little time by skating me over to the bench, and he told me to go down the right side and shoot it over his left pad, which I was gonna do, because that's usually what I do. But then by the time I crossed over the blue line, I looked up and he was pretty much on the entire right side of the net, so I was like, Well, that's probably not gonna work. Then I was gonna deke, but as soon as he went down I thought it was kind of early, and I just had the entire top shelf."
And that was that. Not that he needs to hear it from me, but I told Steckel he certainly didn't look out of place or awkward in the moment.
"I didn't want to appear awkward, because that would suck, eh?" he said. "The goalie looks at you and you're a nervous [wreck]? I just went down and shot where I saw net."
So there you go, anonymous Internet commenter. Any other questions?
Well, I had one. Semin's game-winning shootout slap shot Wednesday night had me wondering why more guys don't try the penalty shot slapper, and so now you'll be treated to even more quotes on this topic.
"Obviously Semin knows where his shots are going, so if he can let a full slap like that go from the hashmarks, good luck trying to save it," Matt Bradley said. "It's definitely intimidating for a goalie. You get anybody with a good shot like a Semin or a Chara, taking a full on slap shot from the hashmarks, you might flinch. That puck's coming hard. Unless it hits you, you're not gonna save it, right? I'm sure that guy had no idea that he was gonna do that. I'm sure he thought he was faking something for a deke, because that's normally what you'd do. Obviously it worked out."
"It's awesome," Karl Alzner said. "I love that move. In practice I'll usually do a slapshot, something like that. Semin's got a rocket. He gets the puck up in a hurry."
"It's something I always try to do in practice, because it's tough for a goalie to read," Jason Chimera said. "You can't really read where it's going. And if it hits [the goalie], it hits him. That's the only thing. But if can place that slapshot, it's going in 90 percent of the time, if you hit it where you want it. It's a gutsy play, but that's a guy who can do it. I've thought of it, and I've done it in practice and scored many times, but I've never really brought it out in a game because I don't want to be yelled at for going wide or something."
And, to mix the two stories, did Steckel consider that approach?
"It's never crossed my mind," he said of the penalty shot slapper. "I do what works for me, and guys do what works best for them. That would not occur to me to do that."
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