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Time To Dial Them In: Bauer OD1N Performance Starts With Fit

To say InGoal Magazine has taken its time reviewing Bauer’s Supreme 1S OD1N line is an understatement, and while not everyone has appreciated the wait, it has been time well spent. In addition to feedback from pros like James Reimer and Devan Dubnyk on the ice this summer, InGoal was able to put our test set through the ringer, including Junior A camps, one month with a German-league pro, and more than 100 sessions of our own. While a complete review is still set to roll out with a new magazine in December, we will also break out the key points goalies kept coming back to during testing here on the website, starting with this look at the importance of fit for a pad that may not fit preconceived notions:

In a lot of ways, a full review of the Bauer 1S OD1N pad could be summed up by the quote from new Toronto Maple Leafs No.1 Frederik Andersen that appeared in the April preview: “I like the innovation and I love how they slide. The mobility is good. The first time I had it on, I was all over the place. It was so light I was flying everywhere but once I got comfortable with how fast they were, I loved them.”

Innovative.

Light.

Slide well.

Active rebounds.

Takes some getting used to.

That nicely sums up the 1S OD1N pads, but we’ll start with the last point first because getting the OD1N pad set up properly is an important first step to experiencing the other attributes. While some, including Andersen, needed a little time to get used to a pad that weighed so little and slid so well, adjusting how hard they pushed into slides and from their knees because they would travel further than in their previous pads, the bigger adjustment for many was getting Bauer’s new CRS (Custom Rotation System) strapping system dialed-in with their personal preferences. Even veterans like long-time Bauer user Mike McKenna, who is going into his 12th pro season, needed a little time to get the 1S OD1N pad set up properly.

“The first day I wore then I knew they were going to work. I didn’t know how good they would end up being, but I knew they were going to work. But it took a little experimenting to get them to point I was dialed in,” McKenna told InGoal. “It was a three-day process of more or less playing with the strapping and toe lace to try and figure out what worked best for my body and style. There was no break-in for the pad; you just have to figure out what fits best on your leg and style.”

For McKenna and some of the other pros InGoal talked to, that meant doing some of the straps up a little differently than they had on previous pads, particularly around the knee.

Bauer unveiled a new Velcro-based Custom Rotation Strapping (CRS) system in the Supreme 1S OD1N that also comes in the lower price point Supreme S190 and S170 pads.

The new CRS has a couple of significant new twists, starting with an easily removable outer knee flap … 

… and neoprene wrap that starts as an inner calf wrap anchored on the outside of the leg, loops through a slot in the inner calf wrap on the inside of the leg … 

… then and attaches again to the Velcro on the outside of that outer calf wrap.

Goalies can also remove the outer knee flap and attach the kneestrap down to the outer calf wrap instead.

The bootstrap is removable and has elastic properties, as does the new toe tie, which is made out of a slightly stretchy – though they were careful not to make it too flexible – material 

The new toe tie is designed to let goalies feel more connected to the toe of the pad without sacrificing their ability to easily get their skate to the ice in the butterfly.

It makes sense considering how different the 1S OD1N is compared to past pads.

The materials are different. The design is different. The fit and performance are different. And for some that might mean being open to setting it up different. That’s why Bauer has been so active with demo days for the new line, trying to give goalies a chance to experience those differences themselves. But if McKenna, who understands his equipment and how it works as well as any goalie we’ve dealt with, needed three days to dial his in, don’t be surprised if it takes more than one skate for you to do the same.

If you ask McKenna, it’s worth the investment of time.

“It’s kind of like if you buy an SUV you don’t expect it to handle like a sports car. It’s just built differently, but when people wear them and wear them properly they love them,” he said. “The way they slide and how well they seal the ice – [then Panthers goalie coach Pierre Groulx] was like ‘whoa.’ When I first tried these pads we both thought they were a revelation. So accept how it’s built and try it out in earnest.”

Here’s a closer look at how McKenna set up his Bauer Supreme 1S OD1N pads:

mckenna-od1n-strapping

Each set of OD1N pads comes with “short” and “long” strapping options for three locations: the lower calf wrap, the CRS strap that wraps around the top of the calf, and the kneestack, which can be run to either the outside of the calf wrap (as McKenna has done above) or to an outer knee flap that is removable.

Mckenna uses a short bottom strap “to keep the pad tight to the shin and propped up high” and said his “middle strap is long because it allows for rotation without being too tight, yet it’s still against my leg.”

Based on InGoal testing, the most critical OD1N strap may at the knee, where McKenna kept his “short and angled to give my outside knee freedom as well as keep my knee from leaving the cradle.”

 

It’s kind of like if you buy an SUV you don’t expect it to handle like a sports car. It’s just built differently, but when people wear them and wear them properly they love them… Mike McKenna

 

Alert readers will also notice McKenna has completely removed the bootstrap on his 1S OD1N pads. Just like removing the outer knee flap if you don’t use it, Bauer has made it easy to take the bootstrap on and off, while at the same time making it more reactive for those who do keep it by making it out of an elastic material to provide a little give rather. Like the other straps, each pad also comes with your choice of long or short bootstrap. The only complaint from InGoal testers was the Velcro attachment at the end of the bootstrap on the 1S OD1N being a bit too thick, which made it more difficult to run the bootstrap through the “Lundqvist loop” that now comes stock on the heel of all Bauer skates.

(For those wondering about McKenna’s custom “Lundqvist loop” button in the picture, he made it himself: “I cut a small slit in the bottom of my socks and run the Lundqvist loop through it to keep them from riding up my leg when I play, which in turn helps keep my knee guards in place. And it looks cleaner.”)

Back to the importance of choosing the correct strap around the knee, there are several factors at play, and they play a role in most InGoal testers echoing McKenna’s preference for the short strap at the knee, whether they run it down to the calf wrap like he does, or wrap it around to the outer knee flap.

The nature of an elastic strapping system is a factor in itself because there isn’t an absolute end point like there would be with a leather strap. In other words, if that strap is too loose it won’t prevent the knee from pulling off the kneestack, which is why Bauer included the ability to add a leather strap (Lundqvist uses a nylon strap) with a cutout in the kneestack and loops to hold buckles on the outside edge. This can be exacerbated a bit by the lack of a “leveller” to flatten the bottom of the OD1N kneestack, but simply adjusting the strapping tension allowed most to set up the pad so their knees stayed on the stack.

For many InGoal testers that meant wearing the elastic knee strap tighter than they had with previous pads, a consensus shared among most of the pros we talked to, including McKenna and Dubnyk. Some also switched to the pro-level kneepads that come with the 1S OD1N pads (pictured above) but goalies like Reimer who wear even bigger kneepads didn’t have problems integrating them with the new pad.

Strapping the knee in tighter didn’t cause rotational issues for our test goalies or pros, who felt the unique neoprene-based CRS strap around the upper calf allowed them to customize how much connection they wanted with the leg. Wearing the knee strap tighter did, however, help to mitigate a looser connection between the kneestack and the pad than most test goalies would like. The problem with that connection being too loose is when goaltenders drive their knees down into a butterfly, the kneestack can get pushed below the lead edge of the pad on the way down, hitting the ice before the pad can seal it.

The solution is as simple as wearing the elastic kneestrap tight enough to prevent that. And no, that doesn’t mean it has to be wrapped around the knee to the outer flap. McKenna straps his to the calf wrap.

“It comes back to how you wear it,” McKenna said. “The way I strap and Velcro it in eliminates it sticking out and fixes that connection (between the kneestack and edge of the pad) at 90 degrees.”

McKenna now raves about seal and stability as much as sliding and hard rebounds.

“The weight and material and way it fits, you are not fighting against it, it’s a really square stable edge,” McKenna said. “And when you are moving too  these just stay sealed … When people wear them and wear them properly they love them, but how many guys really take the time to dial it in and understand it.”

 

Testers loved Bauer’s use of their impact-absorbing Poron XRD foam on the top level of the knee stack (black layer) and the kneepads that come with OD1N, but the lack of a “leveller” left a small gap between the middle layer and the ice on that inside edge, making it more important to get the strapping right around the knee to help keep it on the stacks.
Once Mike McKenna got his OD1N pads dialled in, the ice seal and stability matched the sliding and rebound performance others raved about. (Photo by Michael McSweeney)

Understanding the need – and taking the time – to do so is a big part of getting the most out of the new Bauer Supreme 1S OD1N.

For some goalies, that includes a willingness to consider strapping them on a little differently than you might have done with past pads, and while some might argue that shouldn’t be the case with any pad, the reality is OD1N is not any pad. From the strapping to the materials, it is different and may therefore require a different approach to how some goalies wear it. As we’ll show you in the next two parts of this online review, the performance benefits have made that a worthwhile adjustment for many.

NEXT WEEK: Breaking down how and why 1S OD1N Slides well with Devan Dubnyk: