Strategy Guide
Hockey 201: Shot Selection

 Need some help putting the proverbial biscuit in the basket? Going long times without even coming close to getting rubber on nylon? DSM thinks we can help cure what ails ya. First things first, we are going to assume you are playing with the option to manual aim your shots set to the “on” position. If not, it is time to grow up and shoot for yourself, come on, you’re a big boy! But don’t worry, we won’t go as far as to tell you that you have to not use the classic controls configuration; we know old habits are hard to break sometimes. Besides, you can still use the sticks with that setup, so it's all good.

The basics go as such: any shot on net is a shot that could go in. You cannot score if you don’t shoot -- unless you are the Sharks playing the Blues in the 2000 playoffs and Marc Bergevin is on the ice, but I digress. Even with that being the case, shot selection has a lot to do with scoring goals in the NHL. A well placed shot can open up many potential problems for a defending goalie and set the table for a goal onslaught.

Where and when to shoot? Different situations obviously call for different shot types and speeds. For instance winding up for a big slap shot at point blank range is not very likely to result in happiness for a shooter. 

Instead, hold off on the big slapper until you have that defenseman shooting from the point with a clear lane. When the defednseman has his lane, make sure to get traffic to the front of the net. Anything obstructing a goalie's view is money for the offense. 

So get sticks and bodies in front, it is hard to stop what you cannot see. Plus try for a deflection since these have been brought back to the NHL series after a few year hiatus; so might as well use them to your advantage, just like the pros do.

Don’t be afraid to aim low at times. If you are coming down and have a defender between you and the other attacking forward, use the goalie's pads as a bounce pass. Aim low and to the outside of the pads; hope for a kick-out as your other forward crashes the net. Timed correctly you will see a jump in those rebound goal totals.  

There are other holes beyond the 5-hole, so aim your shots towards the other money spots on a goalie. Get into practice mode and practice taking wrist and snap shots from the circles down on a goaltender. Aim high blocker, low glove, or anywhere else you could imagine a puck sneaking past. You have to know your shooters too, but aiming in these spots with a hard wrister is accurate and deadly if done when you finally get that pass into the slot.

Know your shooter; take the time and get familiar with your roster. Some players are good at wristers, some have a deadly backhand, and some are riflemen with a pure slap shot that can shatter glass. Handedness plays a huge role too; if you have a team with a lot of lefties or righties you will need to learn to snipe or get lots of traffic to the net. One timers will also be hard to pull off in this case. 

Realize quickly what hand the goalie catches with each game and make a mental note. Most goalies are strong glove side so aim for a blocker or stick, because if the goaltender does make the save he likely won't control the rebound very well.

Remember your wraparounds; you can really do some damage from behind the net. Watch the keeper, if he is lazy at hugging his posts, or slow from side to side, a quick player can expose this. Use a quick wraparound along the ice to try and sneak one in occasionally, it may help break you out of a goal slump, or get a goalie pitching the shutout off his game. You can also try and sneak that one time touch pass through the crease to the forward sitting on the doorstep. 

This works on man advantages quite a bit if you can move the puck around fast enough to get the d-men moving. If the pass gets through there are few goalies that can get side to side that fast to do anything about this shot. Use this method wisely, as defenders take away close shots first and force you to shoot from long range or bad angles.

Finally, remember to aim high and low to mix things up. The hardest thing to learn with consistency in NHL 08 occurs when shooting, because when you are going up that you can aim down and vice versa. It is hard and the camera plays mental tricks on you when you want to shoot in the opposite direction of where you are skating towards. 

If you aren’t scoring and you are always shooting high going up, try shooting low. Aim five hole, put a deke on the goalie, or try a backhander. Mix things up and you can keep the goalie guessing thus you will have a better chance of knocking him off his high horse.

Well that is all for now, hopefully you can start aiming your way to glory and show your girlfriend that you can do more than fire blanks. Stay with DSM for more how to improve your game moments and be sure to check out the NHL forums to discuss strategy and all things hockey.