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How NOT to Miss the Net

Hockey Tips

The opening of a regulation hockey net is six feet wide by four feet tall. A hockey puck has a three inch diameter. If the goaltender has been pulled, there seems to be a whole lot of room for error if you are taking a shot of any style at it.

The average NHL goalie is about 6-foot-2, and two hundred pounds and change. Vertically, with stacked pads, or in the butterfly position, that eliminates a lot of goal mouth real estate.

If you are going to score, even if the netminder is screened, you need as much help as you can get to learn how not to ring the puck off the post, crossbar, or completely wide into the corner.

Make sure the puck gets on net

Here are some pointers to increase your scoring percentage. If you get really good at scoring, the Toronto Maple Leafs may come knocking on your door.

#1 - If you have the chance to take a shot on an open net, try to get as close as possible before taking the shot. Slamming the puck into the boards with a wild, far shot won’t cut it. Try and cross the blue line, even stand between the hash marks, even if you have an open net. Don’t rush your shot if you have time.

#2 - Close is a good thing, but unless you wrap the puck around the goal post like Wayne Gretzky did back in the day, minimize your shots from the side of the net. If you can bank it off the goalie’s back, or a defender’s stick you might lose the point – but a goal is a goal. Try and get your shot off before all you have to shoot at is twine.

#3 - For the best accuracy, keep the puck on the ice. You may need to lift the puck over the goalie’s stick, or knock the cookies off of Mama’s shelf top corner sometimes, but a shot on the ice will have the best accuracy. Roll your wrist as you shoot, keep your stick closed on the puck and slide the puck subtly past the goalkeeper’s stick if you can.

The top of the blade will be tilted down over the puck with a closed blade, and might confuse the goalie as to whether you have the puck, or not. An open blade (top of the blade tilted back and away from the puck) could send the puck up, and over the net. The best you can hope for with a high wild shot is to knock the goalie’s water bottle off the net.

NHL goal scoring location heatmap

Practice some shots with a rolling wrist, closed blade, in close to the net but not so close you are beside it. Your opponents will do their best to keep you out of the prime scoring real estate in front of the net. If you find yourself there all alone, you’ll want to have a bunch of practice shots under your belt. Gretzky said, "You miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take."

Do your best to improve your shooting skills, and you’ll miss a lot less when you’re positioned in front of the net, and all alone.