# Hockey and Angle of Shot

My Dad and I are both huge Hockey fans and have been for some time. Unfortunately, neither of us ever learned to play the sport. So, despite the large amount of knowledge we both have concerning the game, we still lack some technical information. And, as will happen every now and again, we’ve ended up in an argument neither of us can resolve.

So here’s the scenario: It’s a 2 on 1 breakaway for the Home team -one attacker on each side. Our right-winger is challenged by the defender and takes a shot at the near side of the net. The goalie dutifully hugs the post, but the puck chips to the other side of the net (behind the crease but in front of the goal line). The left winger skates into the puck and puts it on his forehand.

As I’m sure any Hockey fan out there can imagine in their heads, the left-winger has his body on a slight angle towards the net, but his position is to the side of the crease. With the goalie out of position, the whole net is open to shoot at. So here’s the question: Who has the highest percentage of the net open to shoot at (NOT necessarily highest chance to score): A left-handed shot or a right-handed shot?

We both think that the other one’s choice is on too steep an angle to hit the near-side, and we both think that we’re dead right.

And just to be clear about how we’re imagining the situation: The left-handed wing would have his body to his right of the puck/stick blade, more in front of the net. The right-handed wing would have his body to his left of the puck/stick blade, more to the side of the net.

Bonus points for a link/citation!

(I know that this is really a math question, not a Hockey question, but I think that it fits this forum better. I guess I’ll leave it up to the mods.)

If he’s moving a left-shooting winger would definitely have the advantage. He can shoot with the puck in front of him, and that’s a far more natural shot to make. To take a forehand shot, the right shooting player would need the puck behind him. He’s far more likely to take a backhand shot in front of him, and that will be less accurate and slower.

I was going to say that if the player isn’t moving shooting left isn’t as much of an advantage, but I can’t justify that. The left-shooting player always has the advantage that he can shoot with the puck in front of him. The right shooting player still needs it behind him which means that it will take longer to get the shot off. On the other hand, the right shooting player can move into the middle of the ice with the puck on his forehand. If he has room to do that, the right shooting player has a massive advantage.

Oh, I see that I completely ignored the actual question. In terms of who has more net to shoot at, it’s the same for both players assuming that the puck is being shot from the exact same place on the ice. The position of the puck alone determines how much net a player has to shoot at.

Let me clarify a bit more. I think I left this question too open-ended. Not only are both players on their forehand, but both have the puck in front of him, such that they are mirror images of themselves with the puck and stick blade in identical locations (but obviously facing slightly different angles -hence the original question).

Knowing this, does the lefty still have his advantage?

If the puck is in the same spot in either case (and the hypothetical LWs would be on either side of it), then I don’t think it makes a difference. I just tried it out with a golf club to make sure, and I don’t see how one player could have a better angle if the puck and stick heads are in identical spots.

On the other hand, if the Left Winger stays in the same spot but the puck moves depending on whether he’s shooting left or right-handed, then obviously the right-shooting LW has the better angle.