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U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Is Now Emphasizing Style. But What About Goals?

Prioritizing taste over targets is largely hockey blasphemy, and Stauber’s riot faces its greatest take a look at Thursday, when the United States girls tackle Canada within the ultimate recreation of team play. So a long way, the effects had been combined: a nail-biting, Three-1 victory towards a gritty Finland staff and a Five-Zero wipeout of an overmatched Russian facet.

To watch the United States play is to peer one thing very atypical if in case you have ever watched hockey. They steadily appear as more likely to skate and cross backward as they’re to move ahead.

They zig and zag across the ice in a chain of circles and east-west routes till any individual sees a seam within the protection she will be able to penetrate. Suddenly the puck flies ahead, and the United States is attacking the throat of the opponent’s target. Forwards skate to the again. Defensemen on occasion zip to the entrance. The thought is to by no means surrender the puck, as a result of if the opposite staff doesn’t have the puck, they are able to’t rating. The much less time the opponent has the puck, the fewer time they have got to attain.

“Whatever lane you see you take,” mentioned Amanda Kessel, the 26-year-old famous person ahead whose brother, Phil, performs for the N.H.L.’s Pittsburgh Penguins. “It’s different than a lot of us are used to, and if you have one person not doing it, it’s not going to work.”

If this sounds acquainted, you’ll be a football fan who watches possession-obsessed Barcelona, or take into accout the so-called “Clockwork Orange” Netherlands groups of the 1970s. The Dutch created the concept of “total football,” in which everyone plays everywhere, attacking in a relentless, fluid movement, filling area and shifting the ball anywhere it exists.

And similar to the Dutch challenged long-held concepts, the United States girls’s taste questions the standard strategy to hockey, which is generally about doing no matter it takes to get the puck into the opposite staff’s defensive zone, even though that suggests dumping it into an empty nook and giving chase.

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Gig Marvin, entrance, after scoring the Americans’ fourth target in a Five-Zero thrashing of Russia.

Credit
Srdjan Suki/European Pressphoto Agency

It’s no longer all the time beautiful, nevertheless it roughly works. When there are 10 skaters in one-third of the ice and the puck is sliding backward and forward, the goalie has a tendency to get screened and assists in keeping transferring place. That creates alternatives to sneak the puck into the web.

In distinction, the brand new American taste is lovely to look at. It’s all pace and motion and a chain of slashing, lightning-quick assaults.

“We’re playing more of a flow game,” mentioned Brianna Decker, a staff captain. “It makes it special and allows us to be hockey players.”

Megan Keller, a defenseman, beamed when requested to explain the way it feels to play this fashion. “We all read off each other,” she mentioned. “You just go out there and play.”

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“We’re playing more of a flow game,” mentioned Brianna Decker, proper, a staff captain. “It makes it special and allows us to be hockey players.”

Credit
Brian Snyder/Reuters

The drawback is that it’s no longer transparent if it’s the easiest way to attain targets. The United States performed Canada 5 instances right through the autumn. In 3 of the ones video games, they failed to attain greater than a unmarried target.

The tying and go-ahead targets towards Finland got here right through a three-minute stretch when the Americans pinned the Finns of their defensive zone and created the type of chaos in entrance of the web that produces conventional targets in hockey, a recreation the place the shots-on-goal statistic, which the Americans generally dominate, will also be misleading as a result of all photographs don’t seem to be similarly efficient.

All the ones inventive, slashing assaults is also artistic endeavors, however the result’s steadily a dead-on fight between an attacker and a goalie who generally has an unobstructed view of the puck.

That used to be what came about for lots of the first 30 minutes towards Finland, a stretch the Americans most commonly ruled, in all places however at the scoreboard, because the Finns clung to a 1-Zero lead in the back of their goaltender, Noora Raty.

“You are not going to score if it’s a point-blank shot,” United States ahead Monique Lamoureux-Morando mentioned. “You’ve got to get tips, screens and deflections.”

Stauber, the primary goaltender to win faculty hockey’s participant of the 12 months award, most likely is aware of this higher than maximum. His hope is that each one that ownership and attacking and capturing will produce much more attacking and capturing, and he’s seeking to remind his avid gamers of one of the most oldest of hockey adages: You can’t rating in the event you don’t shoot.

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