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Can NHL '12 Help Sam Gagner?

It's no surprise that Coach Bob Nielsen has helped us to understand the intricacies of the game through interviews and his outstanding site but I never thought an X's and O's guy like Coach Nielsen could help fix a player's broken shootout mojo.  Coach Nielsen was interview by writer Adam Kimelman on the role of video games as a teaching aid in hockey. In the interview, Nielsen revealed the secret of his younger players' success:

"My surprise came with the younger players. A few of them told me that they learned moves from playing the video games. One player even discussed a specific move he makes often and said he picked it up playing one of the NHL2K-type of games. A few others said they have tried things on the ice in practice that they learned on a video game."

It makes sense.  With the amount of modeling done in the programming for the game, it's possible to create moves and figure them out without ever having tried it on the ice.  Kimelman also spoke with youth hockey coach Craig Wilson, who echoed Nielsen's take:

"My son scored three goals this weekend with a move I've never seen him do.  I asked, 'Where did you get the move?' He responded NHL11, when he practiced it on screen in the shootout."

Sam Gagner's debut in the NHL was marked by immediate shootout success.  He had one deke and he abused it until every goalie in the league had him down pat.  Since that initial burst, however, he's been quite bad:

S G %
2007-08 17 5 0.294
2008-09 8 3 0.375
2009-10 7 0 0.000
2010-11 5 0 0.000

37 8 0.216


Now, some of it might be dumb luck, but ask any Oilers' fan and they can tell you, Sam looks lost out there.  He's zero for the last two seasons and when he approaches the goal now, he just does weird things -- ultra-slow approaches, weird angles, telegraphed shots -- things that aren't going to be successful in a shootout.

It's time Sam picked up a controller.