Above you will see Artemi Panarin’s royal road one-timer goal against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, November 19th. I decided to take a closer look at this goal, as there are a couple things I can discuss from it. The first thing I will talk about is the royal road.
What is the royal road? It is an imaginary road that starts at the net of one goalie and ends at the other goalies net. The royal road is basically a term used to represent the middle line of the ice. Take a look at the picture below.
The royal road is used more for goalie analysis than anything. Puck movement makes it harder for a goalie to make a save. One of the tougher saves to make is on a shot where the preceding pass traveled through the royal road.
On the above picture, I illustrated the Panarin goal with two lines. The green line is the pass from Kane to Panarin. The pink line is Panarin’s shot on goal. As you can see, the puck traveled through the royal road. This type of play is effective as it forces the goalie to track the puck and move laterally from post to post in a hurry.
When the puck is on the goalies left side, he must get into position and be square to the puck. The goalie is covering up the left side of the net where the puck is. If the skater shoots the puck, the goalie is likely to make the save. The goalie never had to move, was always in position, and could easily track the puck. Skating up the ice in a straight line and taking a shot on goal won’t lead to many goals unless it’s a perfect shot. If a goalie lets in a shot where the puck stayed on one side of the ice, more blame can be put on the goalie.
With royal road shots, less blame can be put on the goalie. Imagine the puck on the goalies left side and he is in position covering the left side of the net. All of a sudden, the puck gets whipped from one side of the ice, through the royal road, and to the other side. The goalie must push off and move laterally, keep an eye on the pucks trajectory, and move quickly to cover the right side of the net. To achieve this lateral movement, the goalie must open up his body, leaving more of the net open for goals.
A shot coming off a pass through the royal road is a very effective goal scoring play.
Below, you will see a freeze frame of the Panarin goal. The pass from Kane to Panarin has been made and Panarin is just about to release his one-timer.
Take a look at Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom. A split moment ago, he was in position, protecting the left side of the net, and square to Patrick Kane. You can see the pass trajectory represented with the green line. Markstrom has to track the puck through a screen from Artem Anismov and Ben Hutton. With Panarin sending a quick, powerful, and accurate shot to the open part of the net, goalie Jacob Markstrom has no chance. A Vancouver skater should have been in position to prevent the royal road pass.
Watch the play again and this time focus all attention on Jacob Markstrom. Chicago makes two consecutive royal road passes that move the goalie laterally back and forth. As Panarin releases his shot, Markstrom has no other choice but to make a sprawling dive that fails to stop the puck. This is the power of the royal road pass.
I also want to point out a subtle move Patrick Kane makes that enhances the play. When Panarin sends the first royal road pass, Kane receives it, makes a little move to the net, stops, and sends a pass back to Panarin. (This is most noticeable in the last replay.) This little movement towards the net freezes defenseman Luca Sbisa and goalie Jacob Markstrom. That little movement by Kane made the Canucks think he was going to shoot. I believe this movement by Patrick Kane froze Markstrom for a split second, giving the goalie no chance to recover and stop Panarin’s shot.
Patrick Kane performs this simple, yet effective move often.