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Finding Beauty In Thomas Vanek Deflections

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

All goals are scored, but all goals are not created equal. This is very evident as hockey fans are treated to Top 10 compilations of the best goals throughout the league all season long on the NHL Network, or even during a TV timeout while at the arena. Witnessing one of the those goals in person is even more special. Alex Ovechkin has the ability in him to do that night in and night out. Thomas Vanek's game winning goal in the second period against the Blue Jackets was as beautiful a goal as you'll see.

It's not pretty, though, in the traditional way of how highlight reel goals are scored. No this was a deflection of the puck that popped up and over Columbus starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

This goal will not get the credit it deserves for just how hard that goal is to score. First, as you see, Vanek is set up to the right side of Bobrovsky with his feet planted on goal line. With the puck coming in to Vanek from such a steep angle, redirecting the puck 100 degrees and into the net is not easy. The puck makes contact with the blade of Vanek's Warrior Covert near the toe, allowing the puck to ride the taper and the curve to lift it up and over. You can see the motion of the stick as the blade flexes backward and returns to normal just as the puck changes direction.

Deflections and tip-ins have been apart of the game for a long time. Changing direction of the puck often allows the player to beat a goalie, whom nowadays, could stop most straight shots that he is able to track. More often than not, the deflection is happening out in front of the goaltender - usually between 5-10 feet in front of the net. The key is to give the puck enough time to change its trajectory so that it will miss the goalie. With goalies playing a butterfly style and playing at the top of the goal crease to cut down the angle, a shallow tip will most likely get stopped. So seeing a puck go in from a seemingly impossible angle and missing the goalie within that 5 foot radius from the crease really is amazing.

Again, this goal will likely get over-looked on the next compilation list for top goals because those tend to choose the flash and dash type goals, but make no mistake, Thomas Vanek made a hell of  a play to win the game for the Wild.