No one anywhere prevents an attacker from blocking shots. However, since the current 108 leaders of the NHL in this season are defensive players, it ends with the conclusion that this thankless art is intended for appearances.
However, there are a few exceptions. Over the years, Nick Bonino has proven himself to be an expert in this field. We wouldn’t instinctively think of him, but Auston Matthews is the most prolific of the forwards this season. We must now also include the name Rafaël Harvey-Pinard for this specific group.
Since the Canadiens called him up from the American League on January 17, no forward has blocked more shots than him (40) in the entire NHL. Within his squad, only David Savard (59) precedes him in the first half. In addition, his speed of 6.48 blocked shots per 60 minutes played is considered high for any forward in the league who has played at least 20 games in 2022-23.
With some players, these actions are not desirable. Talk to Jack Hughes who accidentally fell on Saturday night and absorbed a cannonball fired by Jesse Ylonen with his body. Make no mistake: It’s no coincidence that Harvey-Pinard has filed in 40 takes over the past two months.
“It is a skill that develops and confirms the manager in question. You have to practice more and more, game by game, so that it becomes automatic.”
A quick survey of a few of his 49 teammates confirmed that his dedication and technique did not go unnoticed.
“I noticed that last year when he was playing the Laval Rocket in the playoffs,” said Kaiden Guhle. He’s such a big part of his game, we need a guy like him. »
Anthony Richard, who at the time was playing with the Syracuse Crunch, faced Harvey-Pinard in the first round of the playoffs last spring. When the Rocket was shorted, Richard said, “I felt like I could hit him on the pitch, but at the last minute he would kick his foot or leg in.”
The latter praises the intelligence of the person who was his teammate.
He positions himself well. Often, the wingers play close to the defenders, so it is more difficult to block shots. With the speed I’m in control, I like to apply more pressure to make transitions. But Rafael, playing a little less in his area, has confidence in his ability to block shots, and he does it great. I have never seen such a kind man [à ce chapitre]. He plays like a goalkeeper.
Samuel Montembolt abounds. “Defenders are very mobile… Guys like Adam Fox or Shea Theodore, if you go too fast on them, they’ll fake it, you’ll bite them and they’ll come in with more space and time to get a good shot.”
Harvey Bennard “respects the defenders”, confirms the goalkeeper. “He doesn’t attack too quickly, he stays patient, finds the right line of fire. And the puck hits him.”
Logically, in the defensive zone, the defenders block shots closer to the goal than the attackers. Does the action taking place away from the goalkeeper change anything about eye contact with the puck? “Not really… As long as he blocks it, it makes my job easier!” exclaims Montembolt. It would be hard if it blocked my view and passed the disc, but that’s not a problem. He remains standing for a long time and becomes blocked in time. »
Defenders who gobble up the most pucks are generally very proud of that aspect of their game, and Harvey-Pinard sees things in the same light.
“I’ve been doing it since I was very young,” he says. For me, it’s very interesting. The guys get up on the bench, you are congratulated. I know if I want to get to the next level and stay permanently in the NHL, I have to provide details that others don’t. I think blocking shots is part of it. »
His coach thinks the same way. “He has good detail, and that’s an advantage,” said Martin St. Louis. It’s also a state of mind. Stadium bans aren’t fun, but they are important. »
Why isn’t this expected of all attackers then? “It’s expected of everyone,” St. Louis replies.
We take notes at home.
“Hipster-friendly tv trailblazer. Problem solver. Infuriatingly humble introvert. Reader. Student. Subtly charming bacon maven.”