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Pro Drills: Luongo on windows to manage behind the net
Roberto Loungo may be retired but that doesn’t mean he can’t still share a few puck-stopping secrets from a 19-season career while he waits to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
InGoal Magazine spent a week on the ice in Florida with Luongo and Panthers goalie coach Rob Tallas prior to the 2018-19 season, Luongo’s last in the NHL, shooting video of their drills and reviewing some of the footage afterwards. So many of lessons that week will always apply, and there’s always a chance to learn watching a goalie with the third most wins (489) and second most saves (28,409) in NHL history, so we’ll continue to roll them out over time.
We started with a warm-up session that featured Luongo and then-Panthers playing partner James Reimer using screens work on patience off the release. We continue with a look at plays behind the net, focusing on a drill that starts with a sharp-angle shot off the boards and continues with a net drive below the goal line and either a wraparound or pass out.
We’ll show you the entire drill below, as well as the way Tallas worked the movements involved into their warm up that day with a progression of crease movement and shots early on, but first we wanted to go over a couple examples with Luongo leading the discussion on “windows.”
As you heard Luongo discuss, in the video he is working on using what is commonly called a “four window” approach on plays behind the net. For those who may not have heard of this concept before, a quick overview using the above video with Luongo as an example.
First Window: Everything before the puck reaches the short-side post on Luongo’s left.
Second Window: Between the short-side post on his left and the middle bar of the net.
Third Window: Between the middle bar and the far-side post on Luongo’s right.
Fourth Window: Everything outside the far-side post.
As Luongo explained in the video above, the goal is to shuffle off the short-side post but keep looking over the short-side shoulder when the puck is in that second window, allowing the goalie to maintain visual connection in case it is passed back to the side the puck carrier is attacking from. If you turn your head too soon, that pass back out can catch you moving off the short-side post with little chance of finding the puck again before it’s in the net.
Once the puck gets into the third zone, there are varying theories. Some coaches want you to quickly turn your head at this point, briefly giving up that visual connection as you transfer across to the other side after the puck has crossed that midpoint behind the net. Others prefer to keep the head on the side the puck came from (in the case above, it would be over Luongo’s left shoulder) while continuing to push across, and then bring the head around after reaching the post. In a lot of cases, the preferred method can depend on the comfort of the individual goaltender, and it can still vary from the blocker to glove side for the same goalie.
In fact, on blocker-side attacks Tallas talked about turning the head early over the glove-side shoulder but holding the post in a recent video that was part of his “Greenfield Drill.”
It’s something to watch for as Luongo and Reimer work through the complete drill below, but it’s not the only thing. You’ll see some frustration from Luongo (muted by us) as a couple of pass outs after the wrap go under the heel of his stick, and a conversation between Reimer and Tallas about the importance of getting that stick all the way around to cut off those passes. You may also noticed that Reimer plays some of the initial shots in an overlap, squaring up with his skate outside the post rather than defaulting to a reverse-VH like Luongo. It’s an interesting contrast, and worth watching in terms of both coverage and the extra move to get back inside the post. Lastly, there’s a brief conversation between Luongo and Tallas about getting his short-side skate inside the post and sealing it with his toe box instead of leaving a gap to his pad:
As compelling as it can be to watch a future Hall of Fame goaltender go through a drill with a couple dynamic elements, it was also interesting to note that Tallas included elements of the movements involved in that drill in their extended warm ups on that early August day.
It started as part of their basic movement drills:
We’ve harped a lot on the importance of crease movement patterns in recent weeks, and it’s something Luongo talks about in the video below while Reimer is in the net.
“It’s always there,” Luongo said of the focus on simple movement. “When the base is there you feel so much better about your game, you know? You feel like the saves are easier to make.”
Tallas continued to combine movement elements of the behind-the-net drill they’d be doing later once they added shots to the warm up that day. And just as Luongo wanted to play out rebound on that final drill above, that was part of the message from Tallas here:
Incorporating those elements in the warm up created a nice progression to the final drill that day by getting the goalies comfortable shuffling off that short-side post. Add Luongo’s quick lesson on using windows behind the net, and there should be some takeaways for goalies of every level from a goaltender who played at the highest level for 20 years.
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