Ben Scrivens Toronto Marlies Goaltender

Toronto Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens talked to InGoal Magazine about his unusual stance and glove position in this week's Ask a Pro. (InGoal file photo)

The Toronto Maple Leafs may be out of the playoffs again, but top goaltending prospect Ben Scrivens is still playing hockey through mid-May with the AHL affiliate Marlies, leading the crosstown farm club through two rounds and to the Calder Cup Semi Finals.

Scrivens leads the AHL with a 1.61 goals-against average and .944 save percentage after eliminating the Abbotsford Heat in five games Wednesday night, and continues to build on a an up-and-down season that saw him struggle with his focus at times in the AHL, but also play his first games at the NHL level, compiling a 4-5-2 record and .903 save percentage with the Maple Leafs.

The thoughtful Alberta native and Cornell University Grad, has been a part of InGoal’s Ask a Pro program before, joining James Reimer and fellow puck-stopping prospect Jussi Rynnas in a two-part session that included thoughts on Toronto’s goaltending development, and how he got started with Leafs’ goaltending guru Francois Allaire in Switzerland. Scrivens took some time out from his playoff run this week to talk to InGoal about everything from his unusual stance and glove positioning, to mental tips, and his season so far, including the important role of his ongoing playoff experiences in the American League:

“I feel more confident right now at this exact moment, Scrivens said. “We’ve got a really good team so that helps any goaltender out, but in terms of my development this is huge. You always want to play meaningful games late in the season and into the summer. Toronto has been pretty adamant about getting their guys playing if they are not in the playoffs. Guys are always in the World Championships if they are not here playing meaningful hockey, and as a goalie it’s no different. You want to test your mettle in pressure situations, and that’s what the playoffs are.”

~ InGoal reader John Milhouse asks: Do you continue to work on technique in the playoffs, or is it more mental at this point?

Scrivens: “No, it’s mental, it’s consistency, it’s a whole bunch of different stuff, but at this point part of Frankie’s system is you put in the work during the year. We work hard in practices, we do 45-minute goalie session and then we stay on the ice for an hour-and-a-half practice, so it’s a long day some days. But the benefit of going through all that pain during the season is now you get into playoffs and you are not trying to re-invent everything, you aren’t trying to solve issues that have just come up. By this point in the season you should be confident with your game and if there’s a tweak here or there, fine, but it’s not re-inventing anything.

Ben Scrivens Toronto Marlies Goaltender

Scrivens has a fairly low, wide base, but still generates a lot of power and speed in his lateral pushes. (InGoal file photo)

“Frankie is with us on the ice in Toronto and [Jean-Ian Filiatrault], our other goalie coach travels with us. He works with the guys in Reading, the fifth guy, and also Garret Sparks in Guelph, so like last year when I as up and Reims was up, Jean-Ian was with us because there was no one in the coast. So right now Jean-Ian comes on the road with us and Frankie is in Toronto with us, so we always have a goaltending coach with us. The amount of input they both have is still huge.

“We talk every single day, we go over every game, goals – this is good, this is bad, keep doing this or that – the only things that changes is we’re not doing long goalie sessions where we work on this play or that play. We’ve done all that work already, so now it’s more about maintaining that and your energy levels and confidence, and just making sure you are ready. Because you never know, in the regular season we can spend 45 minutes on a goalie session and then an hour and a half on the ice. You can spend two and a half hours in your gear and you know the most you are going to play the next day is 65 minutes, right? Even if it goes into a shootout it’s not going any longer. I know now how much I can push myself and when I’m like ‘okay I need to take a few less reps here to make sure I have the energy to get through tonight.’ Because you can end up playing 120 minutes in the playoffs, you never know how long you are going to go. You can’t overexert yourself in practice because you don’t know how long the game might go.”

~ InGoal Facebook fan Edward Sinclair asks: How does he stay mentally focused?

Scrivens: “I had a hiccup this year in late January and February where I was just making mental mistakes and it wasn’t any one thing, it was a culmination of errors, where there is no ‘oh, I did this wrong and I’ll just change that.’ It was finding out all I have to do in order to stay sharp for a full 60 minutes and going through that definitely helped me out at this point now because I am able to gauge myself. I have kind of a checklist now, where instead of what am I doing wrong, it’s just make sure I am doing this now or that now, and they are all connected to each other and when one slips they all slip. So I have to make sure they are all at a high level.”

Scriven comes out of his crease, stands alone atop the hash marks, and puts his head down to concentrate during long breaks in action. (InGoal File Photo)

~ InGoal follow up: Is that what you’re doing during breaks in the game when you come out to the top of hash marks facing the opposing net, and put your head down? It looks like you might be talking to yourself there.

Scrivens: “Yeah, just kind of talking to myself and going through that mental checklist, but it’s a lot of killing time too. One of the things I found this year was when your mind starts to wander, and that talk within your head is kind of getting to ‘oh, what did I have for dinner or I wonder what so and so … ’ humans are notoriously terrible multitaskers so if you try to think about this and do that, everything goes downhill. So one of the things [Marlies head coach] Dallas [Eakins] suggested to me was talking to myself. You can’t think about anything else when you are talking to yourself because you can only really do one thing at once. So just by reciting different stuff, like the checklist out loud, it keeps you focused.”

~ What kinds of things are on your checklist
“Things like ‘top of the crease,’ or ‘watch the puck,’ just simple things, nothing earth shattering. It just keeps you focused with positive reinforcement, and again there is a parallel to golf: Before you line up to take your shot, it’s ‘keep your head down, back straight, follow through with your elbow.’ It’s nothing that I’m sure hundreds of goalies don’t do anyway.”

~ InGoal Facebook Fan Steve Pace asks” You have a very unusual glove positioning; how did that develop and why? And Marvin Pinero has a similar question: Why is your catcher so high up? What benefits do you get from it than having a normal stance?

Ben Scrivens Toronto Marlies Goaltender

Scrivens likes to hold his glove so it is more perpendicular to the path of a puck coming up off the ice, effectively maximizing the surface area that is square to the puck. (InGoal File Photo)

Scrivens: “My thinking behind it – and I am huge into logic and reason in terms of how I do things – so if you have your glove sideways [with the thumb pointed straight up or even more open] where does the puck come from? The puck comes up from the ice, so the angle it comes at is up so I want to face as much of the glove as possible perpendicular to that path. And then the other thing I was going with, is what’s harder to do – because mostly every goalie is dropping while they are making saves – so what’s harder to do, lift a limb back up against the momentum of your body, or start with the arm up top and keep it there? So you have gravity and momentum working with you more. Again so much of it is trial and error, and everybody has their own way of doing things. But I found that works for me. I like to stay up top because that’s where guys shoot the most if they’ve got time and space. They are looking upstairs, so try and take that away visually and then if they shoot it up there you are not moving anything, it’s not as much of a reaction save to try and windmill it every time. And then anything down I am already going down, and I’ve got gravity and momentum going down and that helps me get it down and close everything up fast still.”

Ben Scrivens Toronto Marlies Goaltender

Toronto Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens talked to InGoal Magazine about his unusual stance and glove position in this week's Ask a Pro. (InGoal file photo)

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13 Responses to Ben Scrivens Ask a Pro: High Gloves and a Longer Attention Span

  1. Matt in Montreal says:

    Great advice on focusing on the positives of one’s game.

    For the kids out there trying to rid themselves of ‘butterflies’, I recommend 15 good belly breaths.

  2. Paul Szabo says:

    I will readily admit that I am nowhere near the NHL and Ben Scrivens is at the doorstep, so I don’t mean to say I am in any way a know-it-all. Still, I have some personal questions about his stance and glove. I’ve always tried to teach the goalies I coach that whichever way you position your glove- fingers up or to the side, that the glove needs to be presented and covering space where a hole normally is (see the recent Ingoal interveiw with Jonathan Bernier on this point). Scrivens, if you look at the photo, has his glove in a double coverage position i.e. it seems to be blocking a space that his shoulder is already protecting. I agree with the idea that the glove should b e angled to intercept pucks that have a down-to-up trajectory. Just the overrotation puts the glove in front of his shoulder and the T trap no longer vertical but skewed to the side. Secondly, as with other NHL’ers (Fleury si a good example), the stick is not centered, maybe because he is so fast with the pads down to the Bfly. Still, I think it is wiser to have the stick centered. Many saves are made by the blade when the drop is just a fraction of a second late.

    • Sean Moloney says:

      Paul, that’s a great observation. Although the large photo above isn’t as much a normal illustration of his glove position, the picture above it, where he’s beginning his drop into his butterfly may be a better representation. I coach my Goaltenders to keep the glove up, like Scrivens, as his reasoning behind it is indeed accurate. However I also teach them that when the puck is in tight to rotate the fingers/glove to it’s more traditional “3 o’clock” position. This making it easier to achieve critical compactness of the body unit when in the Butterfly. I like the high glove in a lot of game situations, mostly on shots from longer distances. I tend to think this is more an individual or comfort thing, but it’s certainly useful in many situations, as Scrivens’s logic clearly and correctly defines.

    • Steve Pace says:

      Yeah, that’s why I asked. I whole-heartily agree with the perpendicular angling of the glove but the positioning doesn’t seems to serve any obvious purpose.

  3. BeninLondon says:

    I have noticed the stick not being centered with a number of NHL and higher level goalies in the past and was always curious about it. I was raised a stand up, stick square and in the middle style and have always coached the goalies I taught that way. A year or so ago I got messing around in a pickup game with the stick position and have noticed that it is more comfortable to have the stick positioned to the side just a little bit when you can clearly see the shot. With the stick being to the side as long as you keep your arms in front enough it is very easy to bring it to the middle for five hole shots. Another benefit of the stick to the side I find is in lateral movement, again as long as it is far enough out front you start your body turning easier and are more likely to lead with the stick in either direction. Obviously you don’t want to get carried away and have it too off center but slightly favouring the blocker has been working for me lately.
    All this being said, I still coach stick centered in the stance because it keeps the arms from opening any undue holes. Something to tinker with in practices or pickup games.

  4. This can’t be a good thing. First Allaire has all his studies hold the glove facing inward, now they are holding gloves are facing down, extending their elbows up and out and positioning their sticks off center? I don’t recall if Scrivens uses the Allarie-taught legs-together Giguere butterfly, but that too demonstrably cannot stop pucks fired tweeners. Using that butterfly technique and stick position sounds like a deadly combination.
    If I were scouting goaltenders, I would instruct my players to shoot low glove or tweeners on Scrivens and observe the ensuing ballooning of Scrivens GAA.

  5. Trent says:

    The glove should be an extension of your hand. Baseball players know this & with only one option, most of them are pretty good with the glove…. My tag line to the goalies I coach is; “palm on the puck”. As the angle of attack changes, so to should the angle of the palm and by extension, the angle of the glove. The logic behind this is to always have the glove perpendicular to the path of the potential shot.

  6. Doug says:

    I loved the mental discussion, tremendous take aways for the goalies I coach. I agree with a couple of other comments though, that I definitely disagree with the glove hand placement. I am also nowhere near the AHL/NHL but I’ve worked with a number of kids who started out playing with their glove up like Scrivens but were frustrated because they kept getting beaten high. It makes sense that the puck comes from the ice, but the shooter taking the shot is looking for net to hit and is doing it from a perspective between 5’5″ and 6’8″. Turning the glove out traditionally (thumb up) uses the shoulder, arm, and glove to visually take away more net, eliminating holes in goalies silhouette and making glove saves more predictable by taking away a shooters option. A disciplined goalie will keep his glove in place as he butterflies (as in his stance) allowing him to cover the lower half of the glove area and then react to a higher shot.

  7. ghost rider says:

    i play on the junior kings in la and my goalie couch is jamie storr yes thats how you spell his name any ways i was taught to keep my glove out and up but not at an angel but normally i only put my glove at the angel when they are ten feet or closer to me what are all the advantages in your glove technique.

  8. WhiteFalcon says:

    With Scrivens glove position its going to make it extremely difficult to react and catch low shots just over the pad. Keeping it mid level and out in front of your body is the best in my eyes.

  9. David says:

    I met Scrivens at the Allaire camp in Switzerland last summer, the success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. I would have never guessed that he was a NHL player (due to his down to earth personality, not his skills) until everyone started congratulating him on getting signed halfway through the camp.

  10. rob says:

    With the glove positioning the way it is one would hope that Ben has worked on his game to make sure he can cover the low shots with his pads. At his game one would also hope that his angles are good enough that he would not have to rotate his glove to get the outside “pitches” and just take them off of the shoulder or slide into them. I have not seen him play much, but after coaching goalies 25 years once they get to a level where he is they pretty much have their own mechanics and the other cognitive skills they need (reading shots, positioning,working with the defense) are all in line. As far as Ben’s comment on the stick blade I have some of my goalies do that as well. It helps visually to take away some blocker side room and the theory being that on the low shots the pad is going to cover any holes left by the stick. It takes time for the goalies to get it but once they do it works pretty well. Overall nice article and funny to hear an Ivy League guy not thinking about Wall Street. Also one one my goalies years back was offered Cornell ahead of Ben but did not take it. In hindsight maybe not a bad move! He is a great guy from what I hear.

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