Shootout secrets

Slava Kozlov will wrist one right up in some goalie's kitchen. Getty Images

This feature appears in the December 28, 2009 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

By way of introduction...

Do you love the shootout? Sure you do. It pits goaltender against shooter in a test of individual skills and will. Do you hate the shootout? Of course you do -- and for the same reason. "I like the challenge," says Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, "but how does it relate to playing as a team?"

One point, though, is indisputable: winning shootouts means points -- and points mean playoffs. That's why NHL types agonize over every aspect of the shootout. Here's a peek at their slickest moves.