Braden Holtby Image – Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

Braden Holtby finished his season with the Dallas Stars on injured reserve but not before he posted a bounce back .912 save percentage, showing off the anticipation and play reading that made him a Vezina Trophy and Stanley Cup winner — and a perfect Pro Reads goalie.

Holtby has always processed the game at an elite level, which shone through in his first three Pro Reads and makes him an ideal guest for our latest video breakdown session.


After breaking down a couple of odd-man rushes and a backdoor chance in-zone in his first three Pro Reads, we wanted to get Holtby’s take on a simpler play that can give some goalies fits at every level of play: a one-on-one rush against a retreating defenseman.

It’s hard to get enough information from a freeze frame like the one above on a play like this, in part because we don’t get an idea of the speed – not just of the attacking player, but whether the defenseman has been able to match it or is about to get beat. That said, is there anything you take away from Holtby’s positioning as the attack reaches the top of the face-off circle? What other clues are you looking for as you try to anticipate what comes next? With the play also moving east-west, are you shuffling or flowing backwards to match speed?


Now, let’s add the speed component by watching the entire sequence from several angles:

There may not seem to be much to that save, but as so many NHL goalies have told us over the years, their favourite saves are the ones that make look easy. So, let’s see how Holtby read this play, and what information he looked for that allowed him to make it look routine.


One part of the save above that every goalie knows can make a routine chance a lot more difficult is the defenseman reaching in with a stick as the shot is taken. Managing that is part of the lessons that Holtby shares in his Pro Read breakdown below:

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