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The Book On: Damien Brunner

Damien Brunner

In a way, Damien Brunner owes his shootout career to Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Sergei Bobrovsky. If one of Brunner’s teammates had scored on Sergei Bobrovsky back on January 21, 2013, he may never had gotten a shot to prove what he could do. Fortunately, none of them did, forcing Mike Babcock to send out Brunner as his fourth shooter. That’s when he did this:

He hasn’t been out of the shootout lineup since.

Let’s just get to it. The newest entry to the Shootout Book: Damien Brunner. The prodigy?

The Basics: Brunner is 2-for-7 in shootouts

Goals: 1/21/13 @ Columbus (Sergei Bobrovsky), 2/28/13 @ San Jose (Antti Niemi)

Misses: 3/3/13 vs. Chicago (Corey Crawford), 3/10/13 vs. Columbus (Sergei Bobrovsky),  4/11/13 vs. San Jose (Antti Niemi), 4/12/13 @ Chicago (Corey Crawford), 4/20/13 @ Vancouver (Cory Schneider)

Brunner shot chart. (Black = goal. Red = miss.)

Brunner shot chart. (Black = goal. Red = miss.)

The Strategy: Brunner’s style resembles Pavel Datsyuk’s. He’s got one set move that he can alter in a variety of ways. Most of the time, he’ll start by sweeping out slightly to the left. As a right-handed shot, this changes the angle for the goalie while still keeping the puck in the center of the ice, allowing Brunner the whole net to shoot at.

From there, he’s going to make one hard fake. After that, Brunner has a two options: either pull the puck to the left side try to stuff it in the low corner like he did against Bobrovksy and tried to go against Niemi, or stick the right and follow up the fake with a forehand that tries to slip over the pad and under the arm, the latter of which was executed perfectly in Brunner’s first attempt against Niemi. The evidence, however, is still a little light. Against Vancouver Brunner skated in as hard as he could and shot. He may have some more tricks he’s not showing us yet.

The Takeaway: The first half of Brunner’s attempts are predictable. You’re kind of lulled into sleep with a half-speed attempt on goal, and then of the sudden it’s like WA-BAM! If I’m a goalie, I’m not biting on the fake until Brunner proves he’s willing to rip off an uninhibited wrister. After that it’s a guessing game. Perhaps the best strategy for a goalie is to stay out out to take away the shooting angle and then try to poke check the deke. If you’re successful you make Brunner look like an idiot. Miss though, and you’re going to be on Sports Center as a flailing victim of a Top 10 play.

Whether Brunner shoots or dekes, makes or misses, it’s not going to be boring. He has me howling like a banshee almost every time.

Shootout deadliness: 4 “OHHHH BA-BY!“s out of 5 

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