Pro Tips

Rob Tallas, James Reimer and Paddle Down Defense of Wraparounds

at NET360 Camp 2018


by David Hutchison

Paddle down is not dead. That much became clear during a conversation started by a warm up drill Florida Panthers goaltending coach Rob Tallas was doing with then-Panthers and current Carolina Hurricanes goalie James Reimer as they got ready to work at the 2018 NET360 Goalie Camp.

As they moved through the usual array of movement patterns on both the skates and knees, Tallas had Reimer performing basic butterfly slides in both directions, but while holding the paddle of his stick flat on the ice. That led to a question from fellow coach Fred Brathwaite, who has worked with Hockey Canada and the New York Islanders since ending his own 19-season pro career, and this conversation between the three (and demonstration, courtesy of Reimer) that we captured about the value of a specific paddle down technique on wraparounds:

Conversations like that are what make the NET360 Goalie Camp great, and it continued when Tallas and fellow coach Ryan Cyr, who co-ordinates the curriculum at the camp, got back on the ice later that afternoon to work with a couple of major junior goalies: Liam Hughes, who was with the Seattle Thunderbirds at the time and is now with the Winnipeg Ice, who work out of The Rink facility Cyr manages, and Dawson Weatherill, then of the Spokane Chiefs.

The drill they started with in that afternoon session contained a couple of key elements, starting with movement and a lateral attack from relatively close range in front of the net and finishing with a walkout using a second puck placed behind the net before the drill started. There were discussion points on several elements of this drill, from how the goalies managed the attack in front, to extended talk about how they handled plays behind the net, including stance width, what shoulder to look over, and how to bait shooters to choose the side the goalie preferred them to attack from. We’ll bring those teaching points, discussions and demonstrations in future articles, but for the sake of this article we wanted to isolate the use of paddle down on the wrap attempts that ensued about each goalie was beaten along the ice.

As Tallas notes, his teaching of this technique comes from watching Ben Bishop:

Clearly there are key elements to executing the paddle down successfully on wraparounds, like being forceful and firm with the stick, not reaching too much, and making sure you don’t leave that backside leg behind coming across from post to post, advice most goalie coaches would consider important whether you use paddle down or not when you get across. And, like all tactics and techniques, specific situations when it will work and when it might not.

As Tallas said to Hughes at one point, “this may not be for you,” but like any new concept, it’s usually worth considering and trying a new tool in earnest before deciding whether or not to add it to your toolbox. Reimer and Roberto Luongo certainly did while with the Panthers.

In fact, we’ve got footage of Reimer and Luongo, who had his No. 1 retired by the Panthers recently and is bound for the Hockey Hall of Fame after retiring last summer, doing various movement and warm up drills in Florida with their paddles down. They were much like the warm up that sparked this entire discussion, and we’ll bring them to our InGoal Premium subscribers next week as a follow up for those who want to work on their paddle down.


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