Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
In Washington’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Dale Hunter went with Matt Hendricks in the fourth round of the shootout. That decision paid off. Hendricks, a gritty, fourth-line player who’s known more for his fists than his goal-scoring ability, faked a shot, deked a few times, and then deftly deposited the puck on his backhand into an empty net. No big.
“I don’t like to talk about it too often,” a bashful Hendricks told the media immediately after the game. “I made a move, and fortunately I beat him. [Nabokov's] a good goalie.”
In his three seasons in the NHL, Hendy is a surprising 5 for 9 in the gimmick (2 for 3 in 2011-12, 2 for 4 in 2010-11, and 1 for 2 with Colorado Avalanche in 2009-10). His shootout goals have been featured in SportCenter’s Top Ten Lists and teammate Karl Alzner has referred to him as the team’s “secret weapon.”
But where did these Moves Like Jagger come from?
“I learned it a long time ago back in high school from an old NHLer by the name of Scott Bjugstad,” Hendricks revealed to NHL Live on Wednesday. “He scored about 50 goals in the league. I don’t know. It’s the only [shootout move] I got going for me.”
The Blaine, Minnesota native continued:
It started when I played for Bruce Boudreau [in 2006-07] with Hershey — in the American Hockey League. I used the move down there. When I got the opportunity to play for the Capitals last season, I guess that move was still in the back of [Bruce's] head. He started using me a bit and he found out it worked a little bit at this level too. I got my opportunity for the first time with Coach Hunter last night, maybe he’ll continue to use me now.
It also doesn’t hurt that Hendricks began his NHL career with the most prolific shootout team in the league, the Colorado Avalanche. According to data from NHL.com, the Avs won 9 games via the gimmick — second most in the league, and also featured the league leader in shootout goals, Wojtek Wolski. How good was Wolski? No other shooter came within four goals of him that season. Also, check out this video! (It’s self-evident.)
So while there may always be more sexier options in the shootout, let’s hope that Dale continues to go with Hendy in the clutch. Not only does Matt have ice in his veins, in the words of Capitals color-commentator Craig Laughlin, he has “more moves than a barrel full of monkeys.” And it’s damn entertaining to watch.
Now, for your viewing pleasure, let’s review all 9 of Hendy’s career shootout attempts, in disconcerting reverse order.
March 13, 2012, Against the New York Islanders
Shooting Against: Evgeni Nabokov
November 12, 2011, Against the New Jersey Devils
Shooting Against: Johan Hedberg
October 10, 2011, Against the Tampa Bay Lightning
Shooting Against: Dwayne Roloson
April 5, 2011, Against the Toronto Maple Leafs
Shooting Against: James Reimer
March 22, 2011, Against the Philadelphia Flyers
Shooting Against: Brian Boucher
February 1, 2011, Against the Montreal Canadiens
Shooting Against: Carey Price
January 24, 2011, Against the New York Rangers
Shooting Against: Martin Biron
January 9, 2010, Against the Buffalo Sabres
Shooting Against: Patrick Lalime
October 10, 2009, Against the Chicago Blackhawks
Shooting Against: Cristobal Huet