The top-10 saves from opening week featured a handful of stops that would be considered outside the standard butterfly box.
In fact, three of the top-four stops were diving, stretching “reach-back” saves – one on the blocker side by Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, and one each to the glove hand by Jimmy Howard in Detroit and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (video below).
All of which drives home the importance of the article on re-teaching desperation saves in the current edition of InGoal Magazine.
As author Travis Harrington of Mind the Net Goaltending schools notes in the article, there has been plenty of discussion the last five years, especially in Canada, about goaltenders losing the ability to make athletic, game-saving desperation saves.
Too often goalies end up in a precarious position and simply watch as a player taps the puck into a gaping net. We’ve seen it over and over in practices, tryout camps and in minor hockey games. As a coach watching goaltenders give up on any play is frustrating enough. As a fellow goalie and someone who views the position as the most noble in hockey, it borders on infuriating.
But perhaps there are a couple of reasons why many young goaltenders seem to lack that natural sense for desperation saves, including an increase in formal instructional opportunities and a lack of kids learning about goaltending through unstructured
“street” hockey experiences, something Stanley Cup- and Conn Smythe-winner Tim Thomas has talked about in InGoal Magazine before.
This isn’t to say anyone should spend all day working on desperation saves. If a goalie needs to make more than one or two in a game, they are probably doing something wrong. But why not add some desperation techniques to the goaltender’s toolbox as well, so that when a situation calls for it they are comfortable executing it properly and without any hesitation?
In today’s era of similar looking butterfly-based goalies – and a generation of shooters that grew up learning the holes in that style – don’t discount the element of surprise in these situations as well. Our students have already seen it on their faces in games, right up to the NCAA level.
So, how does a goalie coach make a concerted effort to teach desperation saves?
Then come back and look at these recent highlight reel NHL saves. You may recognize some of the techniques used. More importantly, you’ll have a better understanding of how – and when – to implement them in your own game.