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It has been an easy six weeks for Buffalo backup Jhonas Enroth.
The Sabres’ diminutive Swedish stopper – Enroth is the NHL’s smallest goalie at 5-foot-10 — has only played once in that span, and only lasted 27 minutes in that Dec. 16 start against Philadelphia, giving up three goals on 18 shots in what turned into a 7-2 win for the Flyers.
Stuck behind a resurgent Ryan Miller (and for more on the surprising real reason his season has turned, look for the next edition of InGoal Magazine in April) as Buffalo tries to make a late run for the playoffs, Enroth still leads the league in games by a rookie goaltender, with 24, and is tied with San Jose’s Thomas Greiss with eight wins.
Still, this is a far cry from last season, when the 23 year old led the Sabres unlikely late season charge to the postseason, going on a 6-0-1 run after Miller was concussed.
Staying sharp in practice isn’t easy, which is where InGoal started this week’s Ask a Pro, with an interesting revelation about how Enroth uses a heart monitor to ensure he doesn’t work too hard on a game-day skate for fear of being worn out if he’s called upon:
Jhonas Enroth: “I usually take practice days a little more seriously, trying to work harder on those, and on game days I am trying to prepare myself like I am playing that night, do everything that I would have done if I was starting. And then when we have power play drills, I really try to be sharp on those. We’ve been doing a good job of making sure I don’t go too hard on game days and morning skates. We are using heart rate monitors every practice, so I can know what level I should go to in order to still be fresh at night. We have it on the computer back here and the athletic trainer is watching it and I can go to him and ask how my work is that I’ve been doing so far.”
InGoal reader Joey Patterson asks: what’s your paddle length and pad size? And Jarid Warren wonders why you use the 580-break trapper.
JE: “I have to ask the trainer the first one – 26 inches on paddle size – and I think I use it, I have a pretty active stick. For pads, I actually changed my Reebok P4 about three weeks ago. I used to wear a little more bent pad, but now I’m a little more stiffer and straight pad. It’s always been just one break (at the knee) but the top part above it used to be pre-curved and now it’s straight. And the size is 34 plus 2, so 36 inches overall. The 580-break is the one I grew up in. I’ve always used that glove, so I am having a hard time to change, I really like it. I tried the 590 break but I just love this glove too much.”
Speaking of size, Rj La Pene asks: As a shorter goaltender do you feel there are extra things you have to do to compensate and be successful?
JE: “I have to move a little bit better, I always have to be in really good position, and I always have to get my feet under me. That’s the biggest key for me, I think. I have to try and make more moves up on the skates instead of sliding too much, and get my feet under me as quick as I can.”
And fair to say you make a lot more half-butterfly saves? Like a Henrik Lundqvist, it seems you don’t default to butterfly nearly as often as other, bigger goaltenders.
JE: “Yeah, I would think so. I am trying to go a little bit more touch, if you want to say that, or more feel. And trying to read a little bit more than other guys I guess, and that’s all about patience on the skates.”
InGoal reader Matt Smitha asks: What is the biggest difference between tending goal in the Elitserien (the “Elite League” in his native Sweden) as opposed to the NHL?
JE: “Over here it’s a lot quicker, there’s a lot more shots and you have to be ready all the time. Over there it’s more passing and longer passes and stuff like that. I like playing over here better, but that style of (pass-first game in Sweden) where players hold the puck and look to make one more play can help develop patience. We have a lot of great young goalies coming from Sweden and that may be one of the reasons, because they have been playing on big ice surfaces for a while.”
InGoal reader David Henderson asks: Have you picked up anything from Ryan Miller? Or has he even picked up anything from you?
JE: “No, I can’t really say that. We’re pretty much different styles I would say. He’s going a lot on feel too, actually, but I haven’t really picked up anything special from his game. We talk a lot about the position, and he’s been really great, a good guy to have next to you in the locker room, and he gives me tips and good stuff to think about, but more about opponents and games and situational stuff he likes to do.”
InGoal reader Jason Wakeley asks: What’s your workout routine consist of? Any exercises you’ve found that work for you that nobody else really does?
JE: “I’m not a yoga guy yet, but I would like to try yoga. I am planning on adding it during the summer. But just basic stuff, a lot of core work, a lot of stuff to try and be flexible and a lot of leg work too. My workouts are designed to make me quick and explosive, so stuff with lots of short, fast powerful movements.”
One more from us here at InGoal: Can you talk about the state of Swedish goaltending? Talking to guys like Henrik Lundqvist, it seems to have followed the Finnish model, with more coaching available over the last five to 10 years, and a lot more structure and resources in place from top to bottom. What was your experience within the system?
JE: “I have had a goalie coach my whole career. I think I was probably one of the first guys from Sweden to always have someone there from age 12-13. I still played as a forward too at that age, but I liked playing goalie better so I always knew I was going to play goalie. But now there are so many goalie coaches back home, so many great young goalies coming up in Sweden, and it’s probably because we have been really working hard on it, and the Federation has been really putting more time and money into it. For sure we’ve started working more like the Finnish Federation did before us, a lot of goaltending coaches and development help.”
Have you so far avoided the plague of creating too many locked-up blocking goalies, something that has crept into the development systems over here?
“I think that’s a problem. A lot of young goalies playing butterfly style just go down and block, and you have to be able to read the game too and react to the puck too.”
Watching Enroth practice, with a variety of half butterfly saves selections in his arsenal, especially on the glove side (again, a la Lundqvist), it’s not a problem for him.
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