Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson has changed his stick flex again
28 days ago
As the Vancouver market’s proud Elias Pettersson stick flex beat reporter, I caught up with the Canucks forward for our bimonthly conversation about the flex on his stick ahead of Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was then, to my surprise, that Pettersson told me that he’d gone up to a 110 stick flex.
“110?” I had to repeat it to make sure I actually heard him correctly, as that would give him the next highest stick flex in the NHL, second only to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, who uses a 115 flex.
“Yeah, 110,” Pettersson said with a grin and a laugh.
After he pulled a fast one on me, Pettersson explained why he made the switch to an 87 flex.
“I mean, after the summer, I was in top shape, but when I went up in flex, I had to make the stick longer, and I was so focused about the flex and everything, and I’ve never played with a taller stick, I always play to about mid-neck,” Pettersson explained while motioning that his previous stick went up to around his nose in length.
“So what I realized is my puckhandling felt fine, but it wasn’t as normal as it had always been, so I went back to a shorter stick, and with that, I went back to 87. But they made it a little stiffer, so it’s like in between 87 and 95ish.”
Flex is used to describe a hockey stick’s stiffness. The lower the number, the more “whippy” the stick is, and the higher the flex, the more stiff the stick is. A stiffer stick helps with faceoffs, stick battles, one-timers, slap shots, and overall shot speed. Defencemen typically use a higher flex, as do bigger, stronger players.
So when Pettersson came into Canucks training camp this year with a 102 stick flex — higher than notoriously high stick flex users Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby — it caught some people by surprise. Pettersson used an 82 flex in 2021-22, and went up to an 87 flex last season, but as he explains above, it was more about finding a length he was comfortable playing with, which naturally brings down the stick’s flex.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that Pettersson said he made the switch around 10-15 games ago, which coincides with right around when he went on his recent scoring tear. It was shortly after making this switch that Pettersson was named the NHL’s first star of the week after scoring five goals and adding four assists through four games.
“It’s hard to keep up the shape you built in the summer, but the big part was I had to make the stick longer, and I was so focused on the one-timers feeling good; I mean, they still do…But I just wanted to go back to my normal length, and with that, I went down in flex. Honestly, it’s finding the sweet spot because I like to play with a quick stick that responds quickly… that’s what I always played with, and if I had, say, a 95 with this length, it got too stiff, and then the wrist shot wasn’t as… I didn’t get like the pop or the quickness of the shot.”
It certainly seems like Pettersson has had no issues shooting lately.
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