I keep a little black book in my mind of what guys are doing against me and what their tendencies are. But mostly I use my timing and quickness. I anticipate how the referee is going to drop the puck. See, all the refs drop the puck differently -- some guys drop it higher, some lower, some harder and some softer, no two are the same. I always keep a close eye on them.
Sometimes I might decide to go forward with the puck, or just try to lift the other guyís stick and use my leg to kick the puck back, but the majority of the time I just try and pull it back on my backhand. Sometimes Iíll flip my bottom hand over to get a little more leverage.
You donít want to get too predictable because youíll end up getting beat. There are some awfully good centermen around the league, and they all do different things. I know the Western Conference guys best, because I played out there for so long. Stevie Yzerman has always been a tough guy to go against on faceoffs, and Yannic Perreault in this conference is very tough. It comes down to how bad you want it. Any guy who tries really hard to win every draw is going to be rough. This is the playoffs. Nothing comes easy.
Joe Nieuwendyk is a center on the New Jersey Devils. This article appears in the May 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
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