Covering the puck correctly is a pretty basic requirement for ice hockey goaltenders. It allows them to control the flow of the game and get a face-off when this is the best option for their team. There are different ways to cover the puck and doing so incorrectly can have an adverse consequences. I will briefly discuss the basic technical considerations with some photographs for illustration.
Photo #1 illustrates what I believe to be the safest way of protecting the puck.
This technique is used a lot since many shots are taken along the ice. The goaltender is in a butterfly-type position. The 5-hole should be tightly sealed. The goalie will have his/her trapper covering the puck and the stick should be on the outside of the trapper. The stick should be up on its side so that the paddle serves a protective function. The principle behind this technique is that as the attacker is jamming at the puck, the stick will prevent any success while protecting the goalie’s trapper hand from injury.
Photo #2 is the other variant that one commonly sees:
It is not my favourite but I find it to be the one I see the most during minor hockey games. It is used in goal-mouth scrambles (with paddle-down technique) in sealing the ice when the goalie briefly has an opportunity to grab the puck. The only difference is that the trapper is on the outside. The 5-hole is still protected but the trapper is not and I believe it is easier to jam the puck loose from under the trapper glove (Photo #3).
Photo #4 is but a slight variation of the first technique. Here the puck is again covered by the tapper glove but the stick is slightly off the ice. This provides the goalie with the ability to actively push the attacker’s stick blade away from the puck.
Photo #5A & 5B demonstrates a technique made famous by Dominik Hasek. When the puck is on the blocker side of the net Hasek, not infrequently, would drop his stick and just grab the puck with his blocker glove. Not something you see often but all that matters is that you control and/ or stop the puck !! Hasek was obviously not the poster child for conventional goaltending!
Photo #6 demonstrates what I believe a goaltender should do once a nice trapper save has been made. Instead of holding your hand out and admiring your save, pull the glove in towards your body. I have seen attackers come by and swat the puck out the trapper prior to the whistle being blown!
The goaltender can also bring the stick up in a protective fashion and keep an attacker from getting too close (Photo #7).
Photo#8 Lying on your stomach with the goal stick being underneath the torso is also commonly seen with young goalies. The problems with this approach are the following: 1) Since the stick is under the chest it is rendered useless for both sweeping a puck out of the goalmouth or for protecting the trapper glove. 2)The is no vertical net coverage at all so if the puck is jarred loose there is a lot of open net to shoot at. 3)It takes more time to recover from this position for a loose puck than to be in the butterfly and slide laterally to cover the puck or perform an blocking save.
In conclusion, covering the puck properly is a basic skill requirement to be successful. There are some different options and you have to use the one with which you feel most comfortable and have success. Just remember that to not cover the puck adequately with protection can lead to it coming lose as the best players are relentless around the net. Hold on tightly to the puck until you are certain the play has stopped.