Flash Screens and Drills to Train With
You might have noticed there have been more goals scored through the traffic in front of the net in the NHL the past five years. This is a no-brainer as the goalies at elite levels are getting so much better to the point that they don’t let in over 95% of long/middle range shots if they have a clear view of the puck.
In the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, Pittsburgh scored six goals through the traffic out of total 15 goals for while San Jose scored four screen shots out of total 11 goals for. This means a total 10 out of 26 = 38.4% goals were scored through traffic during the series.
On the other hand, the goalies also have studied and trained how to find and stop the puck through traffic so elite goalies usually won’t give up the shot with a simple screen in front of them anymore.
Now we have started seeing more goals by more organized screen shots recently. The typical and noticeable new screen shot strategy is flash screen. The screen is actually NOT standing in front of goalie’s eyes before the shot but he/she stands in front of goalie’s glove or blocker instead. The shooter takes a high shot aiming straight to the screen and the screen flashes in front of goalie’s eyes across to the other side so the goalie has to struggle to see the release of the shot (as you see in the videos below).
Consider the game situation below. At the 0:46 mark, you can see NYR Chris Kreider (#20) standing in front of goalie’s blocker before the point shot is taken so he gives the goalie a clear vision at this point. Then he slides across in front of the goalies eyes as the shot is coming towards him. The goalie completely loses sight of the puck on the release and gets scored high on the blocker side.
Very similar plays can be found in this year’s final almost every game:
This one is even more difficult as the player tips the puck up in the air as he flashing through:
A total 6 out of 10 goals through the traffic were scored with a flash screen in the PIT vs SJ final, so I assume they had planned and practiced the skill, especially PIT who scored four goals with a flash screen out of six goals through traffic.
Here are some drills to practice flash screen situations for goalies (and shooters as well). This is a basic pattern to simulate the flash screen. The screen starts in front of the goalie’s glove side, T-Push across to in front of the glove side then T-Push back to in front of the blocker side as the shooter takes the shot to the glove side. The goalie has to move his/her head quickly to find the shot even without seeing the release.
Flash Screen Basic Drill
Slide Out Behind Flash Screen
The next drill is simulating the flash screen when the goalie slides out for closer shots. The shooter passes the puck from the corner towards the slot for the quick shot. The screen flashes from the weak side to the strong side as the shot is released. This is a challenging but fun drill. Enjoy!