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“SHOOOOOOOT!” yell half of the 18,000 people in attendance.

Meanwhile, at ice level, braindead bums like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are moving the puck around on the powerplay, looking for an opening.

The shoot-yellers, one would think, realize that the players ears aren’t exactly tuned to listening to advice from them – so it’s worth asking: why are they yelling it?  Maybe it’s cathartic?

Hawks powerplays often end like this.

I guess I can see the logic of the bellowing-Bowmans (Scotty, not Stan) – when guys take big, booming slapshots through the crowd, it seems to go in like, a third of the time.  THEN JUST SHOOT IT, right?


There’s a reason those shots have a high success rate.  There’s a reason they aren’t shooting, so settle in and take notes – those guys are seeing something your view may not allow.

To take it from the top, NHL goaltenders are really good.  That’s some breakthrough journalism right there.

If you gave, say… Duncan Keith, 100 unscreened slapshots from the blueline, and all the leagues goaltenders rotated through to play goal one shot at a time, I’d be boggled if he scored more than twice (Toskala… was that you Toskala?  He scored didn’t he, Vesa?).

For a shot from the blueline to have any hope, you need to make the goalie move, which opens up holes.  It means he’s facing the shot without getting set.  It means he starts to lose where he is in his net, unless he stays deep in his crease (which is ideal for shooting anyways).  It tires him out so he doesn’t have the legs to get across as quickly later in the powerplay.  You gotta make that goalie move.

Then there’s the screen.  The defenseman in front has one main focus – when the puck is up high, he has to clear the man out in front so the goalie can see.  Being an NHL defenseman, he’s huge, strong, and probably angry – even guys like Holmstrom need some time to get decent body position on a guy like Chara.  You’re simply not scoring on Marty Brodeur if you don’t take his eyes away.  Just ask Sean Avery.

2%, unscreened?

Then there’s the penalty killers.  They’re keeping their sticks in as many lanes as possible, to take away passes, but they know what you want to do.  They’ve been taught to attack the guy with the puck on the half-wall by coming from the top – in translation, he’s taking away the pass to the point, but letting you pass it low, where your team is less of a threat.  It takes a little time getting those guys out of position before you can make that pass. 

Even then, the weak-side forward is assigned the job of getting in the shooting lane.  So if the pass does come through the strong-side guy, the other forward is standing in the shooting lane. 

For those of you who’ve seen a short-handed goal, you know about half of them come from a bomb into the defenders shinpads, the puck going the other way, and the guy who blocked it facing forward, while the shooter isn’t.  Getting your shot blocked up high gets you kicked off the powerplay, because frankly, the guy was RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.

Then the pass has to be in the wheelhouse to be able to take a one-timer.  Stopping the puck means the goalie has had time to set, the d-man has had time to move your forward, and the forward has time to get in the lane.

The low levels of anxiety and frustration that listening to people yell shoot probably isn’t helping the decision making process.

So “SHOOOT”, you say?

I say maybe just hold that thought, and let your NHL TEAM’S TOP SKILL GUYS make that call.

I dunno.  Just a thought of my own.


If you feel like learning about a little bit more Bourne, here’s an interview I did for SB Nation.  It includes a compliment for my (mostly) funny, sharp readers!


35 Responses to ““SHOOOOOOT!””
  1. J says:

    That was awesome.

    The Shoooooooooooooooooooot morons always drive me insane.

  2. Danimal says:

    so what do you do when your team is not named the Blackhawks and has no skill guys so your best shooter is your point man, and he happens to be named Zidlicky?

  3. ms.conduct says:

    Just last night, the crowd was yelling SHOOOOOT on a PP (which the Aeros already have enough trouble holding in the zone), so the guy at the top of the slot rips one. BANG right into the shinpads 3 feet in front of him. Breakaway, 19-yo goalie in his 3rd pro game, terror, etc. You know the drill.

    I told my colleague next to me, “THAT is why you don’t yell shoot.”

    On the flip side, I do kinda enjoy when the crowd is going nuts over that. I was down watching in the corner a few weeks ago (BB’s last game *sad*) and this started up and I just turned around and watched them. The perverse side of me enjoys all that passion from the fans, even if it’s misguided.

  4. Hooks Orpik says:

    Thousands of copy of this posts should be printed and distributed at every rink.

  5. Ron says:

    While cheering on our college hockey team, we had to dumb the “cheer” down a little and just yell “SKAAAATE!”

  6. Jarick says:

    What happens when your favorite NHL team routinely has single digit shots on goal through two periods?

  7. jtbourne says:

    Still, oddly, I’ll trust Zidlicky’s decision making over the guy in section 211.

  8. Mike P. says:

    I guess Im not the only one bothered by screams of shoot! One game a lady behind me would yell that if they had the puck in the neutral zone.

  9. Jarick says:

    It would be a fun exercise to have all fans play the point on the PP at least a couple times, even at a beginner’s level skate. The first few games when I moved back to D, I must have created at least half a dozen breakaways off the other team’s shins.

    Fun story, last week I got a pair of tickets to a Wild game, sitting next to a guy who was yelling to shoot the puck and play harder. Apparently he’s been doing that since game one, season one. They chose him to play the intermission game…which was SHOOTING THE PUCK FROM THE BLUE LINE INTO AN EMPTY NET WITH NOTHING IN THE WAY. And he got the first one…then missed the subsequent SEVEN SHOTS INTO AN EMPTY NET. Two of them didn’t even cross the goal line.

    I almost want to buy tickets again to see if he yells anything after the ribbing the 20+ fans around gave him?

  10. caps says:

    Bourney – I check in every day, but never comment.
    Great blog today. As a pk’er, absolutely love point shots that come too early. So right – easy stop for that tender, we’ll take that draw every time.

  11. jtbourne says:

    Thanks dude, good to have you comment. But you’re so right – early shots are like playing dump and chase hockey, which, while smart in some situations, usually just forfeits possession.

  12. JC says:

    Great article JB. The same “shoooooot!” people are alive and well at the youth hockey games too. Winning a third place bowling trophy at some point in their lives apparently arrives with super ice vision.

  13. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Here is why Wild fans are yelling “Shooooot!” I think this came from Mike Russo in the Star Tribune last week.

    “In the past month, the Wild’s alleged up-tempo system has disappeared. The Wild has been kept to 21 or fewer shots in nine of the past 13 games. Asked why, Richards said: “One is a refusal to shoot the puck. We talk about that every meeting. We talk about it in between periods. You have to give some credit to the defending team. … but there are opportunities where we’re refusing to shoot.”

    The coach has been saying it all season. In the pre-game interviews, the players say they need to put pucks on net. In the post game interview, they say that they didn’t get the pucks to the net. Just last week Martin Havlat said that he took the shot (and scored) because Brent Burns (from the bench) was yelling for him to shoot.

    I think fans are frustrated because it feels like the players are waiting for the perfect opportunity – two quick passes, a moving goalie, out of position defensemen and an open net – before they shoot. (I wonder the percentage of goals that come that way compared to the ones that are shot through traffic, deflected by someone up front or rebound out at a different angle and the goalie can’t change position fast enough?)

    Yes – the players and the coaches know WAY more about how to play the game than I do. I don’t expect them to listen to me when I yell “shoot the puck” or my other faux pax – “get it outta here” after a minute or more of being unable to clear the zone on a penalty kill. I know they’re trying, but sometimes my frustration/desperation gets the better of me. Give me something else to yell during those situations and I will never yell “shoot the puck” again.

  14. jtbourne says:

    Ha, man, there’s some tortured Wild fans out there right now. I know what you’re talking about though, minnesotagirl71 – I talk/yell at my TV constantly. I know people don’t think it’s gonna effect the play…. for the most part. It’s really more of a powerplay-only observation. When they’re set up and moving it around, THEN don’t yell shoot. Deal?

  15. Mike says:

    I’m not a “Shoooooot!” guy, but there are times it is appropriate in the right context. Being a season ticket holder for ECHL hockey, I find that it applies fairly often. Maybe not in the same manner as you’ve written above, but more in the fact that a lot of these guys just can’t pull the trigger fast enough. I love the guy coming down the wing tapping his stick on the ice while chirping at his linemate to feed him the puck, only to get the puck sent his way and then cradle it, make sure it’s sitting pretty with the logo just right, and then take a huge windup before shanking the shot 10 feet wide of the net or having it blocked by the defender who had enough time to make a sandwich and a cup of joe before taking his position in the shooting lane. At this level it happens every game. It really makes you appreciate what the guys in the NHL can do.

  16. Deirdre says:

    Personally my personal rant is against “Just hit him!” call. While I’m all for full-contact hockey, most of the time that really isn’t the answer.

    On the other hand, having been to far too many NHL games where the crowd is eerily quite I’d rather the fans yell stupid stuff than just sit there like they’re watching golf!

    I’d like to think that the players hear the general hum of a crowd into the game, and every once in a while when you really do get 10,000 people chanting the same thing, they hear what it is they’re saying – but overall they’re smart enough to know that the guy in section 211 is just there to have a good time and it’s the guy behind the bench (or your line mates, or yourself) who you should be listening too!

  17. When your team has already been on the power play for 90 seconds, is down by a goal, two mins left in the game, has spent 30 of that chasing down the puck and another 60 cycling the puck without attempting a shot is when I think the shooooooot it shouts are acceptable out of frustration.

    Outside of that scenario anyone who yells shooooooot should be yanked from their seat, brought to the production room and then be forced to watch video of why no one is taking a shot.

  18. Mike P. says:

    I also love when guys take the big slap shop but cant hit the broad side of a barn. They miss the net by miles and rim the puck out of the zone.

  19. SDC says:

    Wait, are you telling me that the capacity crowd worth of people (most of whom probably never played hockey) yelling instructions at the players and refs, don’t know the exact best play the players should be making, or know all the calls that the referees should or shouldn’t have called? Fascinating…

  20. minnesotagirl71 says:


    We are tortured – but I can’t stop watching because the Wild have had some amazing comebacks and flashes of beauty. I feel like I have to support the team though the torturous games so I can feel good about celebrating the good stuff. If I feel tortured, I can’t imagine what this is like for the players…or their wives. I’m not sure I could stand watching my husband go through this.

  21. Char says:

    IMHO, some fans are just so dumb/clueless, they don’t know what else to yell.

    Some of them are really priceless, though. I had some middle-aged guy sitting next to me once who was actually amazed that I knew the players’ NAMES.

  22. Mark says:

    I know the shoot thing get’s old, and I do my best not to yell it. Goalie has to be put in motion, screen has to be in place, lane has to be open, etc…

    If it’s been 90 seconds in a powerplay, you haven’t recorded a single shot on goal, and you’ve had possession the whole time, and you’ve passed it back and forth between the points 3 times, shooooooot the puck. You’re gripping your stick too tight and trying to wait for the perfect opportunity. Points count the same if they come from the point into the back of the net, or if they bounce off three guys in front, and the screening forward gets his stick on it and putts it in.

    I believe in the set-up, I love watching well executed system hockey, but at some point you’ve got to take a chance. It might not go in, but it will never go in, if you never shoot.

  23. jtbourne says:

    Hey, nobody’s recommending they don’t shoot.

  24. Ed Church says:

    You definately know what you are talking about. I hope you don’t have nightmares about screening the
    goalie in front of shots from the point. Whether the players can hear or not, I still have to yell “Shoot!”; it may
    be setting things up for later, but zero shots on a power play is just ugly.

  25. Jake says:

    Curtis Granderson!!!!!!!!!

  26. Marc says:

    Next week’s blog: “The guy who bangs on the glass – Dont be that guy”

  27. Steve says:

    Ohhhh, the “shoooooooot” guy drives me nuts. I have season tickets to Notre Dame hockey, and we have a guy that yells “Shooooooot” every time the puck goes into the zone, and “Hiiiit him” every time the opposition bring it in. Worse yet, he yells “Thank You!” if said player makes any contact with the opposing player. I guess it could be worse, I could be sitting behind the d-bags at Joe Louis Arena who feel the need to stand up, turn around, and wave at the camera every single time the players bring the puck across the blue line on the near side.
    And yes, we have people who bang the glass and yell creative insults like “You Suck!” at every player that skates within 10 feet of them.

  28. Jarick says:

    Next game I go to I’m going to yell PAAAAASSSSSS just to see what happens.

  29. Blake says:

    Someone should yell SAAAAAAAAAAVE next time your team is on the PK…Just to see if it spurs the goalie into making the save.

    Just sayin…

  30. l3olo says:

    Here in Tulsa, there is one lady about 50 yrs old who likes to yell “Keep going” at all times of the game even when the puck is being batted around the crease. I think she must have learned if from high school football, where the ball carrier is getting gang-tackled or pushing the pile. Either way it is very annoying. Where is the forward going to go? Past the goal line or into the net? Alas, since this is the only hockey for many many miles (closest NHL being 5 hour drive to Dallas) I have to put up with the ignorant crowd.


  31. Bomski17 says:

    I love the comments today. A couple of lessons for anyone even thinking of attending a hockey game:

    1) Never ever yell Shoooooot at a game. Respect the fact that the PP is looking for a lane and trying to get the goalie moving. I hate the shoot yeller just as much as the next guy, but when my team is down a goal and they are looking for the perfect shot, I’m yellin shoot. Anyone ever heard this one “throw it on net, and good things happen?? BTW if people pay for their ticket they should be able to say whatever they want. I do play hockey, albeit not that well, but I feel like hockey fans that play hockey have this sense of entitlement that they know everything about the sport, and that they are awesome at it…. Just saying. Scroll down to tip two below for Example. (this is sarcastic by the way)

    2) Where has scouting gone, seriously? All of these professional hockey players these days take way too long to receive a pass and then load up their slapper. Once they finally get their $240 S19 cocked, they shoot it off the stantion. These guys really suck……I play adult league hockey and I am much better than them….(give me a break people) I think JB can attest to the fact that the ECHL and AHL are packed with pretty frickin good hockey players.

    3) Is this the problem with our sport? Everybody trying to prove that they know more or have been watching hockey for longer than the person next to them? Hey maybe the guy at the Wild game is terrible at hockey, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t “watched” enough hockey to know in theory what they guys should be doing. Let’s face it, hockey takes a lot of athletic talent that 99% of us aren’t bourne (like that JB) with so let’s give everyone a chance to enjoy the sport.

    I’ve had way too much coffee……

  32. Jarick,
    If you time your “pass” yelling perfectly it will piss off the “shoot” yellers perfectly.

  33. Doug S says:

    Your blog is great.It’s a rare combination for someone to combine journalistic talents with experience at a top level playing the sport they’re writing about.
    Regarding this story-I’ve had a radical idea about shot blocking for awhile. The penalty killers are so good at it now-that I think it should be banned,including even strength situations.
    If the puck merely hits the defending player-that would be OK but if the defender goes down intentionally to block a shot-that would be a penalty.
    I mean “goaltending” is illegal in basketball-so I think a similar premise could work in hockey.
    What do you think?

  34. Doug S says:

    Hey JUSTIN:
    Sorry I called you “Jason” by mistake.
    Your Dad was always one of my favorite players. His end to end goal against the Rangers in the playoffs was my vote for the best goal of all time.Yet it wasn’t even in Dennis Leary’s video of 100 greatest goals ever!
    I have the clip of the goal on my facebook page but as you know-it’s part of the 10 min tribute to Bob Bourne that the Islanders put together. It’s cool with the Verve’s great 80′s tune- “Bittersweet Symphony” in the background.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] A common problem is that as a team, you’re usually too busy patting yourself on the back for generating so many shots to realize it’s time to switch game plans (but you hope your coach isn’t).  I mean, something has to go in eventually, right?  You think you’re really taking it to your opponent.  You think you’ll break him sooner or later if you just keep it up.  Throw it on net, throw it on net, throw it on net.  But there’s something different in the mindset between trying to score and just trying to get shots, which is all dumb coaches think they want you to do (see also: “shooooooot”-yelling fans).  [...]

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