March 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm #2883
Something has been bothering me for quite some time when it comes to goals that we shouldn’t be seeing so many of: bad angle shots. What started out as a nice little internal debate, became a defensive treatise on a possible solution. Read on.
Goaltending is a position built on situational preparedness. The more shots you see in a wide variety of positions the more you begin to employ the correct technique for the situation. This preparedness becomes ingrained and allows the goaltender to react with the correct technique when the time calls for it.
Goalies draw on this experience to mitigate truly difficult saves. Take the recent shootout goal from Kane on Jimmy Howard. He came down the middle and Howard had to be held responsible for a lot of net. Believe it or not, no matter how big goalies may get, they are still responsible for 6’x4’ of net, that’s 24 square feet of coverage from a direct shot from the point. I don’t care how big you are, you are only able to cover a bit over 50% of the net even with your toes on the crease. HOWEVER, as a shooter travels towards a corner, the amount of available net diminishes, until it becomes 0 from behind the goal line. From a very poor angle, the blade of a goalie’s stick will become sufficient to stop ANY incoming ice level shot without even needing to be moved. So why do we see bad angle goals on a regular basis?
I myself have often pondered this question, and have come up with a few answers as well as a possible solution. But there is one problem: modern goaltenders aren’t familiar with it. Before we get into that we need to look at some of the root problems, and foremost is whether we are adequately preparing our goalies for the situation.
For the purposes of this thread, see the image below to note what I am defining as a “bad angle.”
Everything in the grey area is what I dub a bad angle. If a goaltender simply stands there they will cover upwards of 85% of the available net. And the shots I am mostly concerned with are those where your d-man is doing his job and pushing the shooter to the outside corners. Think Kane’s cup winner, or even breakaways where its 1 on 1 and the d-man is establishing good position. Especially those where a late man is breaking, and the goalie has something to think about on the back door.
One of the bedrock tenants of goaltending is to stay square to the puck. Imagine that your chest has a lazer pointer on it right on the crest, the object is to have that always shining on the puck. Goalies are intensively trained in this so that they do it automatically, this ensures that you are presenting your body in the largest manner possible to the puck. The funny thing is, when it comes to bad angles that’s not what goalies are doing.
Take a look at some of these pictures:
Notice Kuemper’s legs are turned away from the puck in that last picture. Part of being square is having your entire body facing the puck and being prepared for an incoming shot. Is he prepared? My assertion is that he is not. If the puck comes at him at the same time this picture is taken, what is he going to do? Butterfly? VH (vertical horizontal)? Perhaps, but lets see why these options aren’t optimal.
When patrolling the crease, goalies are taught to seal the post with their outside leg in order to keep squeakers out. Take a look at Kuemper above, his foot is butted up against the post. This interferes with the butterfly, especially these days, because it locks your leg from being able to fan out when you drive down. Because of that, it slows your natural ability to get your knees down to the ice quickly as well as awkwardly pushing your body away from the post, opening up the inside portion of the net (the exact area you are trying to seal!). Take a look at Price here:
Here, his leg has been locked against the post trying to butterfly, and he is attempting to fill the hole that has opened up short side with his body. This is not optimal positioning.
Compounding that is the tendency for goalies to rely on a wide stance and wide butterfly. This is essential for non-bad angle shots, allowing the goalie to take away as much space from the bottom of the net as possible, but as the angle shrinks in the corners and the goalie gets closer to the post, they are hampered. This leaves the tender with a few choices: 1) come out of the crease, stay square to the shooter and use the butterfly 2) drop deep into the crease and use the butterfly, or 3) use the VH. Lets look at all three choices.
1) Come out of the crease and use the butterfly:
This is an excellent choice, allowing you to stay square and react to a shot naturally with your feet, body and hands staying active. But there are downsides. First off, coming out of the crease gives you no depth-angle advantage and takes you further away from the far post. In the case of a back door pass/wrap around or a boot break rebound, you are left trying to cover significant ground to get back to the far post. While this is a major disadvantage, at least you are able to address an incoming shot square and solid.
2) Drop deeper into the crease:
While this will allow you to butterfly without interference from the post, this is not a good choice, as you lose angle depth, leaving room for a plethora of issues with possible squeaker goals from top to bottom.
3) Use the VH:
This is an interesting option, and one many goalies go to, since you are able to cover a solid portion of the net, and are able to recover to the far post effectively via a simple butterfly slide. It is most effective in the red area you see here:
Here is an example of the post movement on this shot:
Issues with this option is that it is a blocking type position and is only truly effective from within 5 feet of the goal post. Anything outside of that begins to open up holes on the top shelf, far side and even between the legs. Not to mention there is transition time getting setup. This is what a shooter should be facing when the choice is the VH:
Because goalies have become consumed with the backdoor pass and possible rebounds, we have many goalies opting for the VH, or on further out plays, simply disregarding staying square at all and retreating back into the net so that they will be prepared for a possible shot from the far side or from the slot. Check out Sharp’s goal on Mason at 1:07 in this video:
Notice how he begins to retreat into his net just before a shot comes off from a bad angle. He is assuming Sharp is either going to swing behind the net, or cut across the center. As a result he takes himself off angle. The same can be said of Kane’s cup winning goal against Leighton:
The angle is just so bad on these goals, that goalies forego the idea that a shot may come and take themselves out of any good position to address a shot.
Ok, we are familiar with the predicament, is there a better way??? In my opinion, yes. And here it is:
That’s right, the stand up save.
Wait a minute. This save has been around since the first time a goalie even strapped on the pads. What do you mean goalies aren’t familiar with it? Let me ask you this, when was the last time you saw a goaltender make this save? Personally, I’ve only seen it once, by Martin Brodeur himself. I think its safe to say that goalies have taken this out of their repertoire.
Why do I think it’s a better option than any of the ones previously mentioned? Strap in, here we go:
1) Staying square:
The stand up save effectively allows you to seal the post while staying square to the puck. You present the entire front part of your body to the shooter, versus taking your body off angle.
2) Efficient depth vs. angle:
In the case of coming out of the crease to use the butterfly, you gain no net advantage by cutting down the angle, while increasing your liability on the far post. Not so with the stand up save. From here, you are at the perfect depth, with the added ability to make it to the far post more quickly than coming out of the crease.
Now here is where some real goalie guys might start to have a problem. Can you really move laterally from this position? Closing up the five hole will surely hamper your ability to rotate, right? Once again, the modern goaltenders unfamiliarity with this technique brings up a rash judgment clouded by the common idea that an ultra wide stance is always best. To them I have a counter. Take a look at these pictures:
The misconception lies in the fact that standing straight up does hamper your movement, but look at Hrudy and Richter in these pictures. Their butts are down, and knees are bent, giving them a large amount of energy to spring laterally at a moments notice. Just look at how narrow their stance is! And these guys were NHL goaltenders! Why don’t we ask Pavel Bure if Richter can move laterally with such a narrow stance:
Teaching modern goaltenders the standup save from these corner shots the right way, with bent knees, a seated butt and with an eye to an effective butterfly slide to the far post in case of a pass is a necessary tool.
3) Taking away space:
Take a look at this picture. This angle really shows you what shooters will be looking at from these shots:
If Dan Berthiaume were to be hugging the post pure stand up, he has eliminated the entire top shelf, and will only reveal a sliver, if anything at all, on the far side. Let alone a freaking giant like Pekka Rinne who will probably eliminate 100% of the available net on this angle. Think about that. This position will effectively stop 100% of shots from these angles without the goaltender having to do anything but be in that position.
Like the VH, the stand up save puts blocking over reactivity. This makes goalies uncomfortable, because they are so mobile these days that anything locked in, where a shooter has time to pick his shot isn’t appealing. But this is deceptive, in the picture of Jim Craig making a stand up save above, his glove hand has the entire radius of his arm to react to anything in the air. He also has the option to use his stick to break up a pass across the middle. On top of that, he can regain depth/angle from a standing position if the puck should leave the bad angle area. This separates the stand up save from the VH, where one must recover from a down position back to their feet if the puck moves out of this zone. If the puck travels below the goal line, the goalie can pivot to the VH effortlessly.
Not only that, but a goaltender CAN STILL react with a butterfly in this position if they are trying to absorb shots. How? Look below:
That’s right, its called a narrow butterfly. OH THE HORROR, A NARROW BUTTERFLY? lol.
Ok, but there has to be a downside to this, right? Of course there are weaknesses to every save, foremost is the inability to control a rebound off the pads. This is mitigated by being in a good position for a second save, unlike coming out of the crease for a butterfly (which can also result in dangerous rebounds). If you are in a good stance, with legs bent and ready to move, this save becomes a real option on these shots.
So why aren’t they already doing this? That’s a good question. At this point I’m not even sure if the goal coaches are even familiar with this save, let alone goalies. Here is a coach teaching a kid how to make a stand up save:
The kid is obviously not too familiar with this, and since they are on a shooter pad, I think the shot is coming from a little bit too inside straddling the area for optimal use. BUT take a look at the last save. This is what I’m talking about. If you extend the ice to regulation size, and see shots coming from the corners, this is an excellent position to stop troublesome bad angle shots.
It would take time and plenty of practice to incorporate into a modern goaltenders bag of tricks, but I think the effort would be well worth it. As soon as it became a part of normal movement drills and practice shots, my guess is that you would see this on a nightly basis. As the goaltender moves toward the post, his stance must narrow, and be prepared to close/hug the post, as well as employ a narrow butterfly for maximum effectiveness. Having a drill where a shooter starts at the top of the circle, skates into the bad angle zone with a d-man pursuing from the blue line, and a second shooter coming in from the slot would really get goalies comfortable with this position in a hurry.March 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm #2885
Amazing work, my friend. When is your Goalie-Coaching manual coming out?March 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm #2907
not sure why the hawks vs. blue jackets video changed to the sabres and devils. weird. i hope nhl’s youtube channel doesn’t change its links randomly. here is the video reposted:
oh, and mmd, my coaching manual will come out the day i finish the chapter “post-game drinking etiquette.”March 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm #2918
can we show this to emery after the Duschene goal last night? I think that’s what you were referring to.March 8, 2013 at 8:19 am #2930
ok, i don’t know what to say about the NHL’s youtube urls, because the postgame highlight’s keep changing on my post for whatever reason.
if you want to look up the mason video, look it up on NHL’s youtube channel. The date is 3/6/13 vs. blue jackets and the time i gave still works.March 8, 2013 at 8:26 am #2931
hey slowey, great pick up. you noticed how razor’s butterfly was interfered with by the post and he was unable to seal the near post. because of it, duschene was able to bank the puck into the goal off of his body.
in this instance, emery has the choice to either use the stand up save or the VH to stop this shot. Most would opt for the VH because he was in pretty close, but the stand up would’ve definitely stopped the shot and probably would be easier to get into position with on that play.
watch:March 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm #3172
for a look at this save in action, check out hextall, right before he hands out the most ridiculous two hand ever:
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