Which Sticks Do They Use? Pacific Edition
October 26, 2018
by Joe Myerjack
The Pacific Division features two of the last three Western Conference champions, as well as a slew of superstars often seen at the top of the points leaderboard. It’s a division in which teams need more than just offensive tricks to be successful; teams require heavy defensemen who can move the puck and clear the crease.
Bauer Stick Users
Erik Gudbranson, Vancouver Canucks — Some would argue that Gudbranson is a throwback to the lumbering defensemen from the early 2000s, as he’s difficult to knock off the puck and will battle anyone in the league at anytime. However, Gudbranson brings more to the table, as he has a precise point shot that Vancouver coaching often utilizes on the power play.
One of the strongest defensemen in the Pacific Division, Gudbranson benefits from a stick that can handle the tasks he throws at it. Resin within the stick’s shaft focuses on flex properties and impact, allowing players like Gudbranson to lean into their shots without worry of stick breakage. He can also accept retaliation from opposing forwards, knowing his stick will remain intact during high-importance moments of any game.
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks — A very balanced skater and hockey player, Horvat brings a ton of skill to the Canucks’ top-six forwards. Horvat isn’t only known as a clutch player with a knack for capitalizing on his chances, but a strong two-way player with an excellent hand for faceoffs. He leads the rebuild in Vancouver as the young Canucks look to take the next step.
Horvat is able to beat his Pacific Division foes in the face-off dot because of his keen eye and quick reactionary abilities, but the lighter Nexus 2N Pro certainly helps. A thinner, stronger carbon fiber is used in the blade edge to cut back on weight, allowing Horvat to react quickly and get his lightweight stick to the puck before the center facing him. The dampening layer in the blade’s core also allows for a responsive puck feel, enhancing Horvat’s abilities to hold on to the puck in key situations and stickhandle into high-scoring areas.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings — Speaking of a daft ability in the face-off dot and supreme two-way abilities, Kopitar is the cream of the crop in the Pacific Division. His speed, tenacity and ability to stay out of the penalty box allow him to be a Frank J. Selke Trophy candidate as the league’s top defensive forward nearly every season. His powerful shot and accurate passing just adds to Kopitar’s arsenal as one of the NHL’s elite.
Sweet Spot technology is surely one of the best perks of the Nexus 2N, as it allows players with lower hand positioning to make an easy load and then rocket shots. Anyone who has seen Kopitar with time in the slot knows he utilizes every aspect of this feature. For all of the reasons this is a favorite for Horvat, the same can be said for Kopitar. He needs a stick that will push him over the edge in face-off wins and penalty killing. The feel for the puck and ability to maneuver quickly make this stick vital for defense-first players.
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks – Talk to anyone within the Ducks organization. If you ask about Fowler, the first sentence will include the word “confidence,” likely followed by “leadership.” Fowler is a leading defenseman in the Pacific Division for his ability to control the play at all times. He does this with great mobility and a remarkable transition game, often turning a scoring chance against into a rush up ice with his skilled forward group.
Surely, Fowler’s confidence stems from years of playing at a top level wherever he has played, but an extension of this confidence falls in his Supreme 2S. This twig is a favorite for players with advanced hands and skating ability, as the TeXtreme fiber includes a balanced feel from butt-end to toe. Any mobile defenseman is going to get plenty of hacks and slashes through the neutral zone, as well; thanks to eLASTech technology, cracks and fractures throughout the shaft are kept to a minimum. This allows players of Fowler’s ilk to feel confident to walk through the neutral zone, then blast a shot on net without the stick snapping often.
James Neal, Calgary Flames – a ten-time 20-goal scorer, The Real Deal James Neal packs a powerful punch to any offense. Joining the Flames this season, Neal has also tallied 30 goals twice and 40 goals once. His nose for the net and ability to get open make him dangerous anywhere in the offensive zone. His wrist shot is one that eludes goaltenders on the regular.
Neal has been known for coming up big in clutch situations. When your team is relying on you to come up with a big play, you rely on your stick to stay intact. RenewCore throughout the stick’s blade includes pressurized gel that fills cracks when they occur, allowing the stick to remain together during the most important in-game moments. Add an the Maximum Power Kick (MPK) technology, which transfers energy from handle to blade unlike any other, and Neal can pulverize shots with authority and precision.
Derek Stepan, Arizona Coyotes – In his second year with the Coyotes, Stepan is a talented playmaker who can thread the needle to teammates, while playing a responsible defensive game. He’s often relied on for important draws and game-saving moments, thanks to his quick stick and excellent reaction time.
It’s no surprise that Stepan often finds himself on the top Arizona line. This is due to his ability to drive pucks to teammates, no matter how long the pass has to be. If he’s intercepting a pass in the defensive zone, he can use maximum flex without losing accuracy to get the puck out of his zone and onto a teammate’s stick. The aforementioned RenewCore blade technology allows him to lean on his stick without breakage, as well, allowing him to use body positioning and pure muscle to win defensive zone faceoffs.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings — A former James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s best defenseman, Doughty is a minute-eater who is relied on for every situation — literally, every situation. He opens the game, closes the game, plays penalty kill, power play and against the team’s top lines. He is truly an elite defender in not just the NHL, but the entire globe.
Doughty’s greatest asset — reliability — is mirrored in the stick he chooses to go to battle with. The QRT+ technology found within the blade makes for a more stable, durable stick. Extra carbon layers are used in the taper zone to reinforce where the shaft meets the blade, allowing Doughty to control picked-off passes better, as well as remaining a reliable puck clearer on the PK. His passing ability is top notch, as well, thanks in part a balanced feel from his top hand to his bottom hand.
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes — A young star on the rise, Keller is one of the smartest players on the ice at all times. Always finding the open areas, Keller utilizes his quick feet to always throw defenders off their game. His scorer’s touch rivals anyone else in the Pacific Division.
Keller’s release is deceptive. With a shot that springs off his stick, he’s able to catch goalies off guard many times in his young NHL career. Advanced Carbon Layering (ACL) technology creates a quicker taper recoil, meaning when he leans into shots, they’re going to get off the ice in a hurry. He is able to use the lightness of the stick to his advantage, as well, getting a great feel for the puck and pulverizing NHL netminders with wickedly placed shots.
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames — Since Monahan came onto the scene in Calgary, the Flames have become a much better team. Granted, players like Johnny Gaudreau and T.J. Brodie entering the NHL around the same time played a major part, but Monahan is the type of player that makes those around him more dangerous. He plays a solid two-way game and has quite the offensive awareness, so his teammates can focus on getting open and ready for a perfect pass on their tape.
ACL technology uses thin carbon layers in the blade, allowing players to take advantage of its overall lightness. Monahan requires a light stick in his hands for excellent puck feel and the ability to not be weighed down by a piece of lumber. He can quickly get his stick in the other team’s passing lanes, get a quick pass to a teammate and start a drive up the ice.
CCM Stick Users
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — When your name is Connor McDavid, you’re going to garner a lot of attention. Last season’s Hart Trophy winner as league MVP receives opposing players’ best game night in and night out, as he dangles, snipes and punishes goaltenders on a nightly basis. There’s not much that McDavid can’t do, so he needs a stick that is ready for his level of tenacity every shift.
When McDavid’s skates touch the rink, he’s already ready for the next scoring chance. The Super Tacks AS1 is ready to accommodate, as its substantially lighter feel, thanks to an optimized molding technology labeled X-Flow, plays an important part in McDavid’s ability to weave in and out of defenders. McDavid’s able to send off quick and accurate passes and deceptive shots thanks in large part to the mid-kick point. A softer mid-section creates a longer loading period, which in turn increases stored energy, and a stiff taper remains stable throughout the shot. In non-hockey scientific terms, this means that when McDavid shoots, it’s going where he directs it in lightning-quick time.
Ryan Reaves, Vegas Golden Knights — The Super Tacks AS1 just isn’t engineered for the NHL’s elitest of the elite, though. A player like Reaves, known for his powerful hits, nose for the front of the net and willingness to drop them with anyone, also benefits from the powerful assets of the AS1.
Acquired late last season and a vital part to Vegas’ Cup run in the postseason, Reaves plays the biggest of games. He needs a stick that will take the punishment associated with the No. 75, whether he’s giving or receiving. Sigmatex composite technology is utilized throughout the shaft, creating an ultra lightweight feel, while providing a durable stick that you’ll be happy to take into a scrum with you. The ACU3 blade is also vital to Reaves’ success, as he is often featured on a scoring unit, driving the net. The durability of the ACU3 is nearly unmatched, allowing Reaves to handle defenders chopping down on his blade, as well as taking the brunt of a 90-mph Shea Theodore slap shot to deflect for a pretty goal.
Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers — Exceptional speed, an abundance of energy and a powerful shot define the Oilers rookie. Drafted 22nd overall by Edmonton in 2017, Yamamoto is looking to stay in the long-term plans for the northern Alberta team. With his quick rise to prominence, there’s no doubt in the coaching staff’s mind that he will be in it for the long haul.
Yamamoto is a bit on the smaller side (5’8″ 153 lbs.), but plays an energetic game with a slice of agitation. He requires a stick that stays strong as the bigger NHLers bear down on him and he gets exactly that with the AS1. Sigmatex keeps the construction always in high tension, making it lightweight but extremely strong and willing to take punishment. This allows Yamamoto to work through a strong defensive system, then unload a powerful shot in the offensive zone, thanks to a maximum-loading, mid-kick point.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks — A former Norris Trophy winner, Burns truly is the full package for the Bay Area team. He is swift skating, hard shooting, puck dangling and hard hitting, when necessary. The defenseman-turned-forward-turned-back-to-a-defenseman is one of the most offensively gifted players in the game today, and he is utilized in every situation for the Sharks.
Burns relies heavily on his eye for the net, rocketing wristers and slappers from the high slot to elude the goaltender. Thanks to a multi-channel blade, known as JetStream, Burns gets a consistent shot that allows him to know exactly what he needs to do to put it exactly where he wants it to go. The JetSpeed shaft allows for a smooth transition from shaft to blade, creating a maximum bend without breakage, releasing the stored energy all at once for a I-never-even-saw-it type shot.
Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks — Hard work pays off. Almost nobody in the entire NHL proves that more than the Ducks’ forward. Able to play wherever head coach Randy Carlyle wants to play him, Rakell is dangerous down the wing, up the middle or behind the net. He’s always getting to loose pucks and winning puck battles, whether offensively or defensively. A 34-goal scorer last season, Rakell has proven time and again to be detrimental to the Ducks’ success on both ends of the ice.
Today’s game is fast, right? Rakell is a powerful skater stride for stride, and he needs a stick that can keep up with every movement. Its hybrid kick point creates a spring-like effect that allows all energy stored to release all at once, while its softer taper increases the shot speed. The result? Pacific Division goalies will regretfully explain what they see when facing Rakell. Sigmatex fibers throughout the shaft also allow the stick to remain powerful in all situations, eliminating those dinky passes or clearing attempts as long as the player’s hands are up to the challenge. For Rakell, they always are.
Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights — It’s a rarity that a player of Marchessault’s caliber is placed in your lap without any scouting necessary. That was the case for the Golden Knights, who picked this high-end shooter up in their expansion draft last summer. A 30-goal scorer with Florida the season prior, Marchessault continued his assault on NHL netminders with 27 goals in 2017-18. He’s again off to a hot start in Vegas this season, cementing him as a reliable, dynamic player and not a fringe-NHLer anymore.
You could say that Marchessault has a feel for the puck that the average NHL player does not. You could say the same about the stick he uses. The Ribcor Trigger 3D PMT includes the Ascent Blade 2, which features a tactile surface for an excellent feel that extends back up into the player’s hands, while added reinforcements in the heel and toe make the blade reliable and durable. Its low kick point allows for players like Marchessault to release shots with authority, as the flex zone is featured higher in the shaft to allow him to release more energy from his top hand and allowing his body weight to truly lean into every shot.
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks — Hertl truly made a name for himself in the 2016 postseason, when he accumulated nine points in 10 games and helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their existence. His speed, ability with the puck and superb passing ability make him a threat to not only score goals on a whim, but set his teammates up for a tic-tac-toe, crisp-passing, beauty goal.
Hockey players are interesting types and Hertl is no different. Although the Speedburner is not a recently developed stick model, Hertl has stuck with what works and relies on the technologies within it to get the job done. The biggest difference between the Speedburner and other sticks (even other RBZ sticks), is how the shaft and blade meet. Rather than fusing them together like most sticks, CCM actually inserts the shaft into the blade, much like you would see in a TaylorMade golf driver. This Power Hosel technology allows the energy transfer to be much more efficient, as the flex from the shaft creates an energy that travels all the way through the blade much quicker without losing energy. This creates quite the whip effect, allowing the puck to rocket off your stick. This is obviously vital when getting off quick shots, but it also helps in quick passing and even quick puck movement, allowing Hertl to not feel the vibration from the rigors of the game as he moves the puck.
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