Before The Shot: On Reimer And Gathering Information
On Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets opened the scoring by capitalizing on a pass from behind the Leafs net by Mathieu Perreault.
You know exactly which goal I’m talking about because it quickly became fodder for breakdowns on television intermissions, Twitter and all places in between.
InGoal’s Clare Austin wrote a great analysis about the variation of the reverse-VH that that Reimer used. Specifically, Clare closely examines the use of Reimer’s skate-on-post positioning and does a really great job weighing the pros and cons of this strategy. And as Clare mentions:
With every save selection, a goalie gains one advantage at the expense of giving up a different one.
Ultimately, what enables goalies to make good decisions is the ability to gather important information and quickly weigh the options presented in front of them by adjusting their positioning to cover against most threats, especially the high percentage options.
This has a lot to do with capitalizing on moments during the course of a game where a goalie has time to look before they move, often referred to as “a shoulder check” or “scanning the ice.”
During this sequence in particular, Reimer had time to look at least once before Perreault made the pass to Byfuglien.
As soon as player has their back to a goalie, even for just a split second, it’s a good time to perform a shoulder check. As we’ve learned from years studying and discussing post-integration tactics, it’s difficult to quickly transition into these types of saves at high speed and get ideal coverage. In addition, the NHL’s decision to make nets shallower allows players to move pucks at narrower angles. This makes it even more important for goalies to be pre-set in post-play positions when a nearby threat is imminent, such as on a wrap or quick pass out, ensuring there is a tight seal in their body positioning on or against the post.
Here, we see the same scenario above from the overhead view. Now, I should mention that it does look like Reimer performs a shoulder check as he’s moving into the post once Perrault picks up the pass from the point. It happens quickly, but I believe he may have done a quick scan. However, it’s at this moment where Perreault has his back to the net, that Reimer had time to perform a shoulder check.
Information helps decision making
We’re all well aware that what happens before the shot is just as important as what happens once the puck is released. As Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick explains, “90 percent of the save happens before the guy releases the puck.”
Within that 90 percent are moments in the game where a goalie will have time to gather important information that will help influence their decision. Depending on how far away the shooter is and what hand they are, that might mean goalies have to maintain a tight seal against the post, stay patient on their skates, or make an aggressive push to take away depth.
The more comfortable goalies get in recognizing when they have time to look and gather information, the more they will increase their chances of not only making saves, but making really difficult saves look easier than they are.
~ Eli Rassi is currently the Director of Goaltending Development with the Carleton Place Jr. “A” Canadians in the Central Canada Hockey League. He is also an instructor and consultant with Complete Goaltending Development (CGD). CGD offers on-ice group, semi-private and private training programs, and consulting services for minor hockey associations, for goaltenders at all levels in Ottawa at its training facility in the city’s West end, the Complete Hockey Development Centre. For more information, please visit www.chdcentre.com or www.cgdgoalies.com