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Islanders Memories & NHL News: In admiration for the Frans Nielsen Backhand

Maybe I’ll go backhand again, or maybe I’ll go five-hole before the starting gun has gone off.

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New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five
It takes at least three men to stop Frans Nielsen, and even then, only briefly.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s Tuesday, there remains no meaningful Islanders (nor NHL, really) news, so we’re going to take a moment to fawn over a guy who is a bit of a cult favorite among Isles fans and is treated as a divinity at this here humble blog.

Rewind: Frans Nielsen and the Danish Backhand of Judgment

To watch Frans Nielsen’s shootout move develop, and evolve ever so slightly over time, was a thing to behold. He arrived as an undersized guy for whom little was expected. But pretty early on, post-Ted Nolan, we started to notice his strength on the defensive side of the game, despite his smaller frame.

Then another skill became increasingly apparent: He was money in the shootout. The legend developed because he wasn’t some multi-tool shootout maestro; rather, he had one lethal move, and he used it well. Somewhere in the early days of this site, the move became legend and the Danish Backhand of Judgment was born.

The montage below captures it well, from the stunned reaction of early victims to the frustrated reaction — note Roberto Luongo here — of those who knew the move was coming but still couldn’t stop it.

And then you have the goalies enraged at being punked — hello, Jonathan Quick — as they thought they knew what was coming, only to have Nielsen to call curtains, sending a shot five-hole from distance before the goalie could get set. Shootouts by and large suck, and they’re a terrible way to determine a “winner” in hockey or soccer, but Frans Danishmeister Nielsen made them must-see viewing.

As for the move itself, it wasn’t so much the deception: he didn’t really sell a fake forehand shot all that hard before moving to the backhand; rather, it was the speed and suddenness he went from “I’m still evaluating my options here” to not only going backhand, but depositing it upstairs where it was hardest to prevent.

Good times, good stuff. Watch this clip, lest you be judged:


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