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Catenacci Looking For His Shot(s)

Hey, what's the percentage of goals that are scored on shots you didn't take?

Or, wait. How many shots do you not take that result in goals?


Something like that, right?

Either way, it's hard to score goals in hockey when you don't shoot. The silly old saying, however, forgets one important part of shooting: It isn't as easy as it sounds.

First, you have to have the puck. Either you have to take it away from someone else (who presumably also wants the puck) or you have to get your teammates to want to pass you the puck.

So you have to check someone or lift their stick or battle them along the boards for it or find room in between big, physical defenseman who are ready to smack you when you get the puck.

But just shoot it and good things will happen, eh? Just that easy.

Rochester Americans' rookie Dan Catenacci, a speedy winger with a keen ability to put the puck in the net, is finding out how difficult getting shots on net can be at the professional level. While he has two goals in his seven games, he also only has four shots. And something should tell you he won't be able to keep shooting 50% (unless he takes up basketball).

“He has to shoot,” head coach Chadd Cassidy said. “You see on our zone entries, especially a guy like Catenacci who can get wide speed, sometimes he could get on the backhand and just throw it to the net because we've got somebody going to the net.”

Call it the “Jochen Hecht play.”

The 20-year-old winger made an impact in a two-game stint with the Amerks at the end of last season scoring one goal and two assists in two games and getting six shots on net. Of course, those two games were played against one of the AHL's worst teams in the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The schedule so far this year hasn't been as easy. The Amerks have played last year's champs Grand Rapids, Toronto twice and Syracuse already in the early stretch.

“I need to get pucks through more,” said Catenacci, who was selected in the third round in 2011. “I've been hitting a lot of sticks or missing wide the past couple games. I just have to get it on net, start creating a little bit more. Around the net I've passed up a few shots trying to make an extra pass.”

Catenacci's two goals have come in the “scoring area” as the Amerks' coach likes to call it. That's really just the front of the net. Take a look here at his second goal, created by a nice tap pass from Alex Sulzer and spin pass from Matt Ellis. All Catenacci had to do was wrist the shot past the goalie.

The shots don't always come that easy, though. And at the AHL or NHL level, any hesitation all but eliminates any chance of getting a shot to the goalie.

Just nine games into his pro career, there still might be the hesitation to be unselfish. After all, nobody wants to be a “chucker.”

“A lot of pressure is on young players who think 'I'm playing with this guy, I have to get him the puck,'” Cassidy said. “That guy is probably going to the net so he should just get the puck to the net.”

Catenacci had no problem letting shots rip while in juniors. In his final OHL season, he scored 38 goals in 67 games. The year before, he netted 33 in 67 games.

He was also able to carry the puck into the offensive zone easily, using his skating skill to dance by slower opponents. In the AHL, other quality skaters and more savvy players make it more difficult. The 20-year-old has rarely carried the puck in so far this year, but wants to do so more often.

“Typically you want to be the guy carrying the puck in the zone looking to make a play,” Catenacci. “If not, it's nice going to the net and picking up the garbage, finding loose pucks to create offense.”

The shot totals will come as he grows as a player and earns more top line and power play ice time.

What about the rest of his game?

Well, Catenacci is an intriguing prospect. He isn't big, but had some edge to his game and plays hard.

Being a mid-round pick and undersized, he knows there's no other way to get to the NHL than playing hard and becoming an all-around player.

“The best players in the NHL are all two-way guys like Crosby and Toews,” Catenacci said. “They play as hard in the defensive zone as the offensive zone. That's how you have to play these days. In juniors, maybe I got away with a little bit more offensive game, but last year I turned it around.”

Plenty of time for turning around his shot totals, too. As long as he doesn't not take the goals he didn't shoot on...or something.


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Locations : Grand RapidsSyracuseToronto
People : Alex SulzerChadd CassidyDan CatenacciJochen HechtMatt Ellis
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