After watching the performance Phil Kessel put on against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, it is easy to see why he was a top 5 pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft. What impressed me most about his play was not only his incredible release on 2 of his 3 goals but his patience around the net and his hard work in his own end and at the end of the game when it counted most. Oh, and by the way, watch his celebrations after each goal, especially his hat trick goal, there is no jumping into the boards or any other kind of antics or theatrics. Hey played it cool, with a small windmill fist pump before skating over to his other team mates to let them join in on the celebration. That's how it is done.
For the young kids reading this, watch the video above and notice how Phil keeps his feet moving as he shoots the puck. This is one of the toughest shots for a goalie to stop because not only do they have to be concious about their angles but they also have to try and guess when the shot is going to come. If you are wondering how he can shoot the puck so quickly without a big windup or lifting his stick off the ice, it has to do with the flex of his stick and the lie of his blade.
The flex in your shaft determines how much whip there is in your stick. Usually when you have a very whippy stick, it is very difficult to take slapshots and sometimes even to receive passes however, your snapshot should make up for the other troubles a whippy stick may give you. If I had to guess, I would say Phil Kessel uses a flex somewhere between 75 and 90. Most NHL players probablly use 100 flex with some of the bigger guys using 110.
The lie of a stick refers to the angle between the shaft and the blade. A lie value of 5 corresponds to a 135° angle, and each additional lie value corresponds to a 2° smaller angle. With the bottom of the blade flat on the ice, a higher lie value causes the shaft to stand up straighter. Typical values range from 5 to 7; most sticks now are near 5.5. Goalie sticks typically have a lie between 11 and 15. Your skating style should determine the lie you need to have.
Have you ever bought a stick that looked exactly the same as a previous stick, and you cut it the same length but when you went to shoot with it, it felt off and your shots were not like they used to be. If this has happened to you, the new stick you purchased probably had a different lie than your last one. So when buying a new stick, not only look at the flex but look at the lie of the blade and curve.
For all of the young players out there, take a lesson from Phil Kessel and work on your snap shot, because in order to be a great goal scorer, you need to have a quick release and an accurate shot.