Better Pavelec Dead-Angle Options on Ducks Goal?
When the Anaheim Ducks tied up Game 3 against the Winnipeg Jets in the third period on Monday night, the overwhelming sense was “here we go again” and sure enough for a third-straight game the Ducks completed the late third period comeback to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinal.
From a goaltending standpoint, however, the temptation to break down the tying goal was too irresistible, especially since Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec left himself somewhat stranded outside his left post, giving Ryan Kesler a wide-open net after the Winnipeg defense failed to cover him on – or take away the passing lane to – the backdoor:
It was a fast-moving play and the defensive breakdown was a big reason the puck ended up in the net. Still it was still easy to wonder if Pavelec would have been better served switching to VH or reverse-VH as the puck was moved into a dead-angle play at the goal line, especially since one reason for developing the Reverse was to put more of the goaltender into the net space while covering the short-side post. Watching Kesler one-touch a shot into the middle, it was hard not to wonder if Pavelec makes a save just by having a pad covering even half the net:
— Greg Balloch (@GregBalloch) April 21, 2015
To be clear, this wasn’t an attack on Pavelec, whose mostly overlooked evolution over the past two seasons under Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty has already been documented by InGoal writers. Again, it was fast-paced attack that became a dead-angle play at high speed down the left wing, leaving Pavelec little time to transition from playing it by squaring up to the original shooter. And as several pointed out in the lively twitter discussion that followed, there is a more immediate threat atop his crease he has to attend to before worrying about the backdoor. That back-and-forth on Twitter included opinions from former NHL goaltender and current TSN and RDS analyst Martin Biron, as well as former NHL goalie Mark Dekanich, who is now playing in Russia’s KHL.
Among those in the discussion was frequent InGoal contributor Dan Stewart, who is currently the goalie coach for the Cobourg Cougars of the OJHL, and owner of CT Crease Canada Goalie School. Dan, who works with many goalies in the Greater Toronto Area as well as New England, broke the play down with a nice video:
It’s not the first time the reverse-VH has been in the spotlight in these playoffs. InGoal already broke down a Reverse fail by Chicago’s Corey Crawford against the Nashville Predators that likely contributed to losing his starting job to Scott Darling. But for all the overuse and exploitation of the Reverse this season and into the playoffs, it’s fair to wonder if there are times when it may have been a better option. On that note, we’ll leave you with the Calgary’s Flames backbreaking third goal against Eddie Lack and the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 on Sunday night:
Lack starts in the reverse-VH as the play comes out from behind the net, but as the shooter moves higher into the zone he switches and squares up in a butterfly, one that leaves him, like Pavelec, outside his post, and unable to recover that space on the rebound because he is forced to make a full rotation right in his recovery.
Feel free to weigh in on both cases in the comments below, and remember we’re not looking to declare any definitive rights and wrongs – hey’s it’s easy to second guess in slow motion – but to spark a discussion that leaves goalies and goaltending coaches thinking and talking more about how the position is played.