So why don't shooters score 100% of the time? The perfect breakaway move has to be a shot on goal, and any shot on goal has a chance to be stopped. The New York Rangers' quick and flexible Mike Richter is virtually undekeable, as Bure discovered when Richter stuffed him on a penalty shot in Game 4 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. But Richter is susceptible up high. Dominik Hasek? Good luck putting together a book on him. Probably the top goalie against breakaways, Hasek is so unpredictable that he intimidates guys before they shoot.
Lemieux was the perfect breakaway machine: deceptively fast afoot and a master stickhandler with a quick release, an accurate shot and a big wingspan. "With his long reach and long stick he could take a puck on one side of the net and bring it all the way over to the other side," says veteran Flames netminder Mike Vernon. "He could make goalies look foolish."
"Any NHL player can beat you, but Mario was the only one who'd embarrass a goalie," says Dryden, who retired before Lemieux entered the NHL. "He'd make the goalie look like a seven-year-old. You almost expected him to pat you on the head afterward. Usually you know what you'd like to have done differently when you get beat on a breakaway. With Mario, you come away thinking, I'm not sure what I'd do next time."
Bure is often cited as today's best breakaway scorer. "He comes with a lot of speed, and you don't know if he's going to go to his forehand or put it five hole," says Colorado goalie Patrick Roy.
"It's his quick release that can freeze you," says Joseph.
"He's got the puck in a shooting position all the time," Panthers coach Terry Murray says of Bure. "It's not in front of him. He's not looking to stickhandle. One little opening in the five hole, and the goalie's in trouble."
"Most of the time you're waiting to see what the goalie does," says Bure, who scored a breakaway goal on Saturday. "You don't have too much time to think because it happens so quickly. Usually a defense-man, or sometimes two, are behind you trying to check you. You want to take advantage of your chances because in today's game you don't know when your next chance will come."