How Corey Crawford Used Visual Clues to Find Puck
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made a tough stop early in the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks that TV analysts described as a “feel” save, finding a double deflection through a power play screen to keep the game tied 2-2 and force what became triple overtime:
For long-time professional goaltender Mike McKenna it was a great example of Crawford using experience and savvy to find a puck he had no way of seeing. McKenna, who split last season between the Arizona Coyotes and their American Hockey League affiliate, noted the save on the Twitter account he set up specifically for live-tweeting Stanley Cup Playoffs games once his season ends:
Crawford’s last save through traffic – that he never saw – was a great example of experience making up for sightlines.
— Mike McKenna *LIVE* (@McKennaInGame) May 20, 2015
Also shows our ability to read the body language/reactions of players in front of us. Often gives clues as to where the puck is headed. — Mike McKenna *LIVE* (@McKennaInGame) May 20, 2015
That ability is something McKenna has written about before in InGoal Magazine in an article that included advice and tips for goaltenders at every level on how to deal with traffic and deflections. It included a section relevant to Crawford’s above-highlighted power play save off Patrick Maroon in Game 2:
“If you cannot see the shot leave the stick, try to read how the players in front of you react,” McKenna said. “It’s amazing how many saves you can make, especially in power play situations, that are purely educated guesses based on experience. There’s an old adage in hockey: ‘you can’t stop what you can’t see.’ This is true only if there are no clues presented to you. Sometimes you are forced to connect the dots and figure out where the puck is going, even if you can’t see it.”
Of course, there are other keys to dealing with tips and traffic in that edition of InGoal Magazine. They include everything from hole-proofing your equipment, to positioning in the crease relative to potential tips, and finding sight lines, including when to look over, and when – and where – to look around traffic.