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DMZ: Decision Making Zone Key to Breakaway Saves

DMZ: Decision Making Zone Key to Breakaway Saves

After examining years of shootout and breakaway footage from the NHL, and experimenting in person at his Goalie U goaltending school and camps in Ottawa, coach Stefan Nichols came up the key to making more saves in these 1-on-1 battles between goaltender and shooter.

When goalies made the save on breakaways and shootouts they all made the final save choice from the same spot: with their toes about an inch inside the crease and the puck a half stick gap away from the top of the crease.

Braden Holtby makes a textbook save showing the value of the DMZ. For a complete breakdown of why it works, and more examples of it in action, read the entire article in the latest InGoal Magazine.

Braden Holtby makes a textbook save showing the value of the DMZ. For a complete breakdown of why it works, and more examples of it in action, read the entire article in the latest InGoal Magazine by clicking the image.

Most of the previously taught technical concepts still applied:

1. Challenge above the crease

2. Gain backward flow/glide

3. Make minor positional adjustments based on the puck’s movement

4. Maintain good gap control between puck and goalie

5. Remain patient to ideally force a deke

6. Slide above the post to make the save

But when you broke down the difference between a save and a goal, none of them mattered without also maintaining this close gap to both force and make a decision from this spot.

After repeatedly identifying this pattern, Nichols termed the zone right below the crease line the “Decision Making Zone” or DMZ, in part because using it correctly forced the shooter to make a final decision and it provides the goalie with a key spot to make their save selection.

Understanding this new information and learning how to apply the DMZ is extremely empowering as goalies take over control of the breakaway. No longer do they just continue to back up into their crease giving players more room to dangle. Goalies applying the DMZ are making a stand, confidently knowing that players cannot run them over so they must either shoot or go around.

To learned more about the DMZ, including step by step examples of it being used correctly and incorrectly, and a video breakdown and instruction, check out Nichol’s complete breakdown of the DMZ on page 41 of the latest issue of InGoal Magazine, or click the photo below.

Decision Making Zone graphic

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1 Comment

  1. Todd

    I like thi s article a lot. Mainly because is mirrors an article by Ben Scrivens in the Players Tribune. In that article, like this one, the focus is simple. Simple enough for my 7 year old to read, understand, and put into play right away. It works pretty damn good.

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