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Johansen In The Shootout: Evolution of a Move

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As the season has gone on, we've been treated to more and more of Johansen's perfected put-on-the-brakes-and-rain-death shootout move. Let's review!

I once asked Ryan Johansen about his shootout history in Portland. This was before he was to board a bus to go to Traverse City in 2011. At the time, he said he really didn't take a lot of shootout chances for the Winterhawks, because they already had several other danglers on the squad.

Suffice it to say, his evolution into the Blue Jackets most lethal shootout weapon has been a nice surprise.

What's better is that he is just lighting up goalies with basically the same kind of move each time: skate in at moderate speed, hit the circles, hit the brakes, wait out the goalie, and then bury the pain on the goalie's head. But, while each of his goals over the last two seasons in the shootout have come from this formula, if we look at each one we'll see that he's continuing to refine his move. Gone are the crazy dekes to try to trick the goalie. Now, Joey just puts them to sleep and then, well, puts them to sleep.

The CBJ have participated in 14 shootouts over the past two seasons. Johansen has shot in each of those events, though he was unsuccessful in his first three attempts last season. Since then? Johansen has notched seven goals on his last 11 attempts (63.6%), and six of those seven goals were the game-deciding and/or game-ENDING goal, and many have come against some of the game's best goaltenders. That, friends, is L-E-T-H-A-L.

Let's take a look at the evolution of Johansen's move!

January 6, 2014 - at Rangers - Game-Ending Goal

Here we see some of the earliest trappings of his now-signature move. He goes in quickly on Henrik Lundqvist, taps the brakes, and then breaks down King Henrik:

January 18, 2014 - at Sabres - Game-Deciding/Ending Goal

Joey still hasn't employed the almost-full-stop maneuver, but you can see that he slows again suddenly at the circle, and dekes Ryan Miller out of his pants:

March 15, 2014 - at Wild - Game-Deciding/Ending Goal

This was the one where I remember thinking: hey, this is starting to become his "thing". It would go to review based on that last deke, but again it's the same formula: speed to the circles, hit the brakes, and wear out the goalie with the deke:

December 4, 2014 - at Panthers - Game-Deciding/Ending Goal

This is where the evolution has started to take place. Same basic move: speed into the zone, hit the brakes, and beat the goalie. Only now, we see the first hints of removing the deke component and moving to the lull-to-sleep-and-then-stone-cold-snipe finish, as Roberto Luongo has no shot:

December 13, 2014 - vs. Penguins - Game-Deciding Goal

The slow-down here is less pronounced, and while it's not the silent assassin snipe like against Florida, it's still a similar move. He hesitates just long enough to get Thomas Greiss to bite at the first movement, and then Joey calmly finishes him off:

December 16, 2014 - at Red Wings - Goal

Johansen has now almost completely removed the full-stop and multiple-deke approach, instead basically using a mirror image of the one he'd dropped on the Penguins three nights earlier. Jimmy Howard is powerless:

March 10, 2015 - at Hurricanes - Game-Deciding Goal

Now finely tuned, Johansen again slows up drastically at the circles, and just basically lulls Cam Ward to sleep. End result? Ward bites on the first movement, and Joey deposits a backhander into a gaping net.

[UPDATE]

April 2, 2015 - vs. Islanders - Goal

It's now clear that the evolution is complete: skate in, slow down, and make the goalie make the first move. I honestly still have no idea how this goal went in, and at first watch at full speed I thought it might go to review because I thought Jaroslav Halak had gotten a piece of it before Johansen hit it into the net. It almost looks like he just "oops'd" it into the net, but it's clear now that he is simply going to skate in and wait for the goalie to blink first.

There you have it. Johansen is eight for his last 13 (and six of 10 this season) in the shootout, and as you can see, they're all variations of the same move, though it's a move that he's clearly refined over time. The goalies have to know it's coming at this point, and they can't stop it.