STICKS - Buying Guide and Advice
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12-09-2011, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: St Paul, MN
By now, hopefully you've got a good idea of what you're after in terms of selecting the right type and size of stick, along with the flex that will maximize your shot potential. The last component of selecting a stick is the curve of the blade. There are many components of the blade that need to be taken into account when selecting the perfect curve for your game.
The lie of the blade corresponds to the angle between the stick and the ice when the middle of the blade is flat on the ice. A higher lie makes the stick more vertical while a lower lie makes the stick closer to the ice. It's important to find the right lie for you in order to maximize the amount of blade on the ice, which will allow you to catch passes and shoot the puck easier.
Players who skate with their knees bent and keep low to the ice often like a low lie blade (5 lie or lower). It makes the stick effectively longer, which helps with poke checks and grabbing loose pucks. A high lie (6 lie or higher) is a better choice for players who skate more upright. It allows players to stickhandle close to the body and pull the puck in for shots for added power. Medium lies (5.5 or so) will be somewhere in the middle. Often the lie of the blade will correspond with the length of the stick. Because a short stick places the heel of the blade closer to the body, a higher lie will ensure the blade is flat on the ice. A longer stick places the blade further from the body, so a lower lie keeps the blade flat.
One rule of thumb in determining lie is to examine the tape wear at the bottom of the blade. If the tape is worn out at the heel, you might try a lower lie. If there's a lot of wear at the toe, you might try a higher lie. If the wear is in the middle or even across the bottom, it's probably the right lie for you.
The rocker of a blade is the round or sharp characteristics of the heel. A blade with little to no rocker has a sharp angled heel, which maximizes the amount of blade on the ice at all times. A rockered blade has a smooth curved heel, which plays like a lower lie when stickhandling but a higher lie when shooting. If you skate and stickhandle low to the ice but bring the stick more upright when shooting, a rockered blade might help your game.
Some blades have a rocker near the toe, which makes the lie even higher when shooting off the end of the blade. Players like Brett Hull and Jason Spezza use these rockers, which helps with quick shots from in close to the body. Most retail curves don't have a rockered toe, so it's not something that most players will encounter.
The type or location of the curve indicates where the curve of the blade starts.
Heel curves are a mostly flat blade that curves at the heel. The flatter blade makes passing and backhands easier but puts less spin and velocity on wrist shots. Heel curves are often preferred by players who take mostly slap shots. Retail examples are the Drury and Lidstrom. These are very popular among pro players who have the advanced technique required to control them.
Toe curves are a mostly flat blade that curves near the toe. This can help with toe drags and stickhandling as well as putting a lot of spin and zip on wrist and snap shots, which are often shot off the toe of the blade. Toe curves are often preferred by shooters and stickhandlers. There are no true retail toe curves anymore, although many European players still use them.
Mid curves are between heel and toe and are a good all-around curve. Retail examples are the Sakic, Iginla, and Lindros curves. These are the most popular curves among recreational players as they are easy to learn and control.
The depth of a curve is the amount of curve on the blade. Until the 1960's, all blades were flat, which gave the player excellent passing and the ability to shoot equally well from the forehand and backhand. A flat blade allows the player to be incredibly accurate with passes and shots as the blade is very predictable. Centers who take a lot of draws as well as playmakers who need accurate passing can benefit from a flat blade.
The Chicago Blackhawks with Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were the first to use a curved hockey blade. They found that the curve made shots unpredictable for the goalies and added velocity. A deep curve can add a lot of spin to the puck, which makes the puck fly like a frisbee, increasing velocity and keeping the puck on target. Too much curve will make backhand shots and passes softer and less accurate.
The face, or loft, of a blade is the angle it is tilted relative to the ice. A blade that twists open and faces upward will raise shots in the air, while a blade that faces forward or is twisted slightly closed will keep pucks low to the ice. If you have trouble raising your shots or keeping them low, picking a curve with a different face can help your game.
A short blade is easy to maneuver and can improve stick handling, while a longer blade gives more surface area to catch passes and grab loose pucks. A longer blade also has a larger sweet spot when shooting and can put more spin on the puck if used with the proper technique. Keep in mind the length of the blade is the primary factor in the weight of the blade, which affects the overall weight and balance of the stick dramatically.
Most blades have either a rounded or squared toe. A round toe is often preferred by players who handle the puck often and can make toe drags easier. Square toes can help players protect and grab the puck along the boards and are often preferred by defensemen.
Last edited by Jarick: 12-09-2011 at
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