When it comes to reading a release, few do it better than Craig Anderson.
The Ottawa Senators goalie has been singled out to InGoal Magazine as one of, if not the, best when it comes to reading plays and shots by several of his puck-stopping peers in recent months, including a strong endorsement from former playing partner, Chris Driedger.
“His reads were the best in the NHL.,” said Driedger, who was in the Senators organization and at training camps with Anderson for six years. “It’s incredible. He wears the skinniest chest protector, he’s the skinniest guy to begin with, he covers no net, and yet he’s out there just stopping guys point blank, standing up, making windmill saves. It’s unbelievable.”
Those sentiments are echoed by another ex-Senators stopper, Robin Lehner, as well (more on the specifics below), so what is Anderson’s secret? Certainly 19 seasons and 19,923 shots in the NHL doesn’t hurt his ability to read shooters and anticipate what’s coming. But the 39-year-old did share a practice tip with InGoal Magazine about how to develop that ability in practice.
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“I start looking at the sticks, start looking at his face and start predicting leaning and then cheating — predictable cheating — and you have to,” Lehner continued. “If there’s a shot from the slot and you’re not one step ahead, he’s scoring. The new generation of goaltending and goaltending coaches are stuck in their ways and overly technical, that’s leading to being very predictable. The shooters have the upper hand. They look at us a lot in pre-scouts and we do the same thing over and over. You have to realize that there are other methods.”
Like Lundqvist and Anderson, Lehner makes a lot more half-butterfly, or one-pad down, saves now. The importance of that patience was something Anderson demonstrated in Pro Reads:
Anderson says the key to developing that type of patience is learning to read other elements of a shot away from the puck and stick blade by practicing it. According to another former playing partner, Anderson is so good at it, sometimes he doesn’t even need to watch the puck.
“When he talks about reading shots and reading hands, and especially in shootouts and stuff, I probably shouldn’t reveal this, but sometimes he’ll say that he’ll only look at their eyes and their bottom hand,” said Mike Condon. “He won’t even look at the puck, because he’s like, ‘this will tell me everything I need to know, or the general area.’ When guys get close with the puck, many goalies can’t react in time anyways so little tidbits like that are important.”
According to Craig Anderson, those tidbits can be learned.
You just need to dedicate the time.
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