Josh Byrne Chicken Wing

Film Breakdown: Josh Byrne’s Chicken Wing

By Daniel May

Jun 13, 2023

Josh Byrne reminded us all of how impactful he is in his first game back with the Chaos this past Saturday. An aficionado of dodging on the left wing, he dominated his matchup - Jake Pulver -  and scored all three of his goals initiating from there. 

“He’s an incredible athlete, he’s uniquely skilled, his IQ is off the charts but I really think it’s his intangibles that make him who he is and separate him from everybody else who plays that position. He’s hyper-competitive, he’s a phenomenal teammate, he couldn’t have more confidence in himself, you know, he’s got that swagger. And we all believe that one guy [in the PLL] can’t cover him,” said Andy Towers in the post-game press conference. 

Let’s look back at all three of his goals and see what he does to beat his matchup. 

Goal #1 - The Chicken Wing

On this longer dodge, Byrne works the matchup through two separate picks. Once he turns the corner and gets a pick at goal-line extended from Chris Cloutier, the SSDM - Bubba Fairman - switches onto him.

He drives Fairman nearly 10-yards upfield, which gives him plenty of options to attack the matchup opening both the rollback or a simple over the top move. Basically, Byrne has Fairman right where he wants him. 

He elects to use his 6’3, 200 frame to get physical with Fairman. He uses the “chicken wing” to push off with his right arm and create separation which frees up his hands for the shot.  It’s not a ward since two hands are on his stick but is just as effective, especially against a SSDM who doesn’t have enough length on his stick to disrupt his shot.

Low-to-low shots don’t usually go in, but Byrne’s ability to shoot deceptively makes it work for him. Once he gets his hands free off the step-back, he steps his lead foot towards the right post. His body shows Cannons goalie - Adam Ghitelman - that he’s going to pull it short side and so does his release. But…. on the release he opens up the face of his stick slicing the ball to the opposite post. Ghitelman guesses he’s going to the right and that split second affords Byrne the time and space he needs to score. 

Goal #2 - Byrne’d Him

Byrne is a complete initiator with the ability to beat his defender with both physicality and speed. The Chaos recognize the speed advantage Byrne has over Pulver and clear out the whole left wing of the field for him to attack that weakness. 

He walks his matchup down to GLE opening up all the space to beat Pulver overtop while still having enough time to get the shot off before a slide can get to him. 

The PLL is filled with terrific goalies who can eat up on the run shots, especially when you’re going up field. That’s why Byrne uses his defender as a screen, shooting it off his hip. He changes levels - goes low-to-high - and Ghitelman had zero chance of stopping a ball he never saw. 

Goal #3 – OT Winner

This is the confidence that Towers spoke of. Byrne knows that he doesn’t need to make some elaborate move to get around Pulver because he’s been getting wherever he wants all game. 

What’s special about this move is it builds off of how he scored the second goal. Pulver tries to prevent the rollback overtop, by forcing him underneath. Byrne feels that pressure and changes his approach - get underneath. 

The 6 '3, 200-pound, New Westminster, BC native uses his size to his advantage to get around his defenders. He turns his left shoulder towards Pulver,  protecting his stick, and takes three hard steps, accelerating through his chest, which causes him to slip. A classic bull-dodge. 

Since he’s dodging underneath along the left wing, his stick is naturally towards the inside, which increases his shooting angle. As soon as he takes that step towards the inside, it’s game over.

Furthermore, as a defender, you can’t make contact with the ball carrier five yards inside the restraining line and expect to stop him. If you watch Matt Rees who’s designated to slide, he’s unsure of when to go, but once he does, Byrne is already in too threatening of a spot.

The help is too late and not aggressive enough and if you want to stop a guy like Byrne - who averaged a hattrick in the NLL this past season - you can’t let him get within five yards with his hands free on a 6-by-6 net. 

When referencing what was going through his mind during that play he said, “At the end of the day, I missed a bunch of shots towards the end there. Blazey [Blaze Riorden] bailed us out and made a massive save, and I couldn't finish it for him, so I just felt like I had to take the ball to the rack.”

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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