Hands and guts.
When you're a head coach putting together his list of shootout shooters, that's all you're looking for. Someone with the skills to beat an NHL goalie one-on-one and the nerve to do it with an entire team, an entire arena, counting on him to deliver in the clutch.
"You have to have the confidence to do it with 17,000 people watching," said Craig MacTavish, after the Edmonton Oilers test drove the NHL's new shootout format for the first time yesterday at the Joey Moss Cup, going ahead with it even though Team Blue won 5-3.
"I had one penalty shot once and all I could think of was don't fall and don't shoot it into the corner. Get a shot on net."
What was supposed to be a simple, three-shots-each contest to decide a winner, turned into a 13-each marathon that saw everyone from Georges Laraque to Cory Cross taking their turn. The fans loved it and the players had a ball, but all of them admitted afterwards that it's funny till someone loses a game.
"It's kind of comical in a situation like this," said MacTavish. "But it's going to be pretty intense when the regular season gets going."
STOPPING THE PUCK
White goalie Mike Morrison stopped nine of 13 Blue shooters (Cross, Chris Pronger and Fernando Pisani did the scoring) and Jeff Deslauriers stopped eight of the 13 shooters he faced (Mike Peca, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Steve Staios scored before Zack Stortini finally broke the tie).
"You hate to have the whole season riding on something like that," said MacTavish. "But welcome to the new NHL. That's got to be a record for the amount of shooters."
"That was a long one, but I heard about a longer one in the A last year," said Raffi Torres, who missed a deke on his chance. "The Hartford Wolfpack and somebody went 26 shooters each. My buddy was on that team. Both goalies stopped 23 in a row. This one was good, too. If anything, it looks good for the goalies. They made some big saves."
Jarret Stoll is a veteran of the penalty-shot circuit, having taken a regular spot in head coach Geoff Ward's rotation last year with the Road Runners. He says it's an honour, one that comes with a huge amount of stress.
PLENTY OF PRESSURE
"There's a lot of pressure," he said. "But it's something I'd love to do up here, of course I would. You always want to take those challenges and have confidence going in there that you can bury it because it's one play that could decide the game."
MacTavish hasn't settled on a list of usual suspects, but gained some valuable scouting last night.
"Fernie (Fernando Pisani) looked like he knew what he was doing out there," he said.
"He had two breakaways (one in the shootout and one in regulation) and made no mistake on either one. So he's going to be in the mix so far and we'll just kind of evaluate it through practice."
Mac T knows the fans will be second-guessing his shooters all year, but says it comes with the territory.
"I would have used Gretzky in Nagano," he chuckled.
"That's the only time I've second-guessed a coach."
LATE HITS: Team Blue had two goals from Robbie Schremp, and singles from Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani and J.F. Jacques. The Whites had goals from Steve Staios, Zack Stortini and Brad Winchester ... Goalie Ty Conklin sat out last night's scrimmage to rest a sore groin. He's being listed as day to day... Ethan Moreau (sore neck) and Yan Stastny (wrist) were the other wounded Oilers.