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Reasons I Love Hockey

July 7, 2008

#3 – Shot Blocking

Shot blocking is the art of willingly throwing oneself in front of a puck traveling in excess of 80 mph to prevent said puck from reaching the net. It looks just as crazy as it sounds. However, NHL players make it look easy. There’s absolutely no hesitation from any of them before diving in front of the puck. Its a well-timed art, as the puck needs to make the right deflection off of the right body part, whether its the skate or the chest or the shoulder.

Jay McKee was a master shot blocker for the Sabres. He made diving in front of the puck look as effortless as skating up the ice. His well-executed blocks kept many pucks from getting through to Hasek, Biron or Miller. His presence is sorely missed by the Sabres.

But I digress.

There’s always a risk of injury with shot blocking. Frozen rubber object + velocity + human flesh = potential for owies. (That’s a key law of physics.) Just look at what happened to Philly’s Thoreson during this year’s playoffs. He went down to block a shot and damn near lost his left nut as the puck hit him in a sensitive area. (I know a lot of hockey players would give their left nut to win Stanley, but it’s just a figure of speech. It’s not meant to be taken literally.) While he did come back to play later in the playoffs, his unfortunate injury was replayed on Sportscenter for several days afterwards.

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