Alexander Kerfoot hears you. He’s heard it his whole life.
“Pretty much throughout my whole hockey career, I’ve been told to shoot,” the Colorado Avalanche rookie said Wednesday night. “It’s been something I’ve been better at, at times, and I’ve struggled with at times again. I know that, even if I’m not going to shoot to score, if you put the puck on net, it’s going to create a rebound, going to create havoc, and I’ve got to do that more often. I do have some goals this year, but haven’t taken too many shots.”
In his first 23 games as an NHL player, Kerfoot was credited with 25 shots on net. With eight goals, including one in Colorado’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets, that translates to a 32-percent shooting efficiency. His one shot on goal in the win over the Jets went in, and it was a shot Kerfoot had to take. Having no other option, off a rebound from a J.T. Compher shot on the power play, Kerfoot backhanded the puck home to tie the game 1-1.
If Kerfoot scores at such a high percentage when he shoots, why doesn’t he do it more? The Harvard grad hears you. But….he just can’t do it as much as you want. His first instinct is to pass the puck, period. He’s a playmaker. Somehow, in his mind, it’s just impolite to shoot without looking for someone else to have the first crack at it.
The Avalanche player from history he most reminds you of, in that regard, is another Alex – Alex Tanguay. While he scored 283 goals in 1,088 games, Tanguay had 580 assists, a better than 2-to-1 ratio. He would drive fans and coaches crazy sometimes with his unselfishness. But Tanguay never did change his game much. He kept looking pass first, right to the end as an Arizona Coyote.
There were times in the game with Winnipeg where Kerfoot probably should have shot the puck instead of passed it. A couple of times, he took a pass from Tyson Barrie down onto the left side, with the goalie and defense trying to shift over, only to give it back to Barrie for plays that came up dry.
“We got a little too cute with the puck at times,” Jared Bednar said, no doubt alluding to times like that.
Yet, Kerfoot has the trust of Bednar enough to have been one of the four Avs on the ice for the power play in overtime that resulted in two goals – one of which didn’t count because of an offsides infraction by Barrie. Kerfoot got the primary assist on Nathan MacKinnon’s game-winner, his second point of the night and 17th of the season.
“We just wanted to stay composed. We knew we still had over a minute left on that 4-on-3 and we were fortunate we got another one there,” Kerfoot said. “Nathan was open at the point so I was just able to get him the puck.”
Hey, an assist is as much of a point as a goal. It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to know that.