How does Zach Werenski score goals?
Leaving the blueline in the offensive zone... How Werenski led all NHL defensemen in goals in 2019-20
Generating more offense and scoring more goals as a defenseman require more than “getting pucks on net.”
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski led all NHL defensemen in goals (20) for the 2019-2020 season. Of his 20 goals, two were empty-netters. We observed and analyze his other 18.
Where do his goals come from?
17 from within the ‘house’
1 from the point
As we pointed out in an earlier post, shot quality matters more than shot quantity. Werenski is picky about where he shoots, and for good reason. He works to get into dangerous areas on the ice and then unloads his wicked shot.
What types of shots does Werenski take?
11 One time shots
6 Wrist shots
1 Backhand shot
This is a well-balanced approach. He can score with the big bomb or from a compact and effective wrist shot.
What kind of offensive chances does he score from?
17 In-zone offense
1 Rush goal
This is slightly surprising, given how often Werenski joins the rush. Nearly all of his goals came from in-zone offensive plays.
Once in the offensive zone, Werenski is scoring from inside the house, so we understand that he doesn’t just stand on the blueline. He’s active, moving around to create issues for the defenders and give himself the best shot quality possible.
Most of the time he is activating from the blueline and skating toward the net. He has great body shape, which allows him to achieve great accuracy and power.
By the time he releases the puck, the goalie often has to guess where the puck is going and has no time to react.
Where on the net does he shoot?
1 Five Hole
1 High Left
3 High Right
2 Open nets where the goalie couldn’t move over fast enough
There are two types of saves for goalies - blocking & reactionary. Blocking saves are used when players are in tight/bad angles where the goalie takes up as much space and takes away the angles as best as possible. Reactionary saves are used when pucks are further away from the net and the goalie can react to make the save.
First, Werenski gets into spots that are difficult on the goalie so the goalie must go with a blocking save. Second, he uses the entire net when picking his spot. He doesn’t just rely on a predictable shot location. It’s much for difficult for a goalie to pre-scout that kind of variety and get into a blocking position to routinely save his shot.
Painting the picture
Werenski is a great in-zone offensive player who doesn’t just stay on the blueline. He is popping up in different spots that are difficult on both the defense and the goalie.
He brings the type of variety with his shots that are unpredictable for goalies. This shows up in both his shot selection and shot placement.
Werenski is similar to other top goal-scoring defensemen in that he is focused on maximizing his shot quality. These players don’t settle for point shots and understand that their talent level should align with higher-danger scoring opportunities.
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