Poor Reverse-VH Execution Burns Crawford
The opening goal of game two in the series between Nashville and Chicago was met with harsh criticism of Corey Crawford and his use of the reverse-VH technique on the play.
Colin Wilson scored for the Predators at 2:47 of the first period by carrying the puck close to the goal line on Crawford’s glove side, and roofing it over his shoulder.
Crawford, having been pulled after the first period of the previous game while trailing 3-0, was already under the spotlight and this early powerplay goal made Blackhawks fans even less confident in the goaltender.
Twitter immediately erupted with complaints and criticisms of Crawford’s choice to use reverse-VH in that situation:
Yet another example of reverse VH being misused.
— mitch harris (@BigMitch_30) April 18, 2015
Reverse VH fail — Bryan Williams (@teebs41) April 18, 2015
Exactly why I don’t like reverse VH. #Sniped Go preds!
— Dillon Goose Caffrey (@danglemeister) April 18, 2015
While the play didn’t look good while watching it live on TV, the real issue lies in Crawford’s execution of the technique on this goal, not the choice to use the technique, or the technique itself.
Anyone that has learned reverse-VH knows that a major component of executing the move properly is the post lean. Without the post lean, reverse-VH is nothing. High calibre shooters will be able to pick the top corner, and simply covering low does not get the job done.
In a lot of cases, fatigued or lazy goaltenders will use reverse-VH as a resting position, and that is very dangerous. Getting caught “hanging out” in RVH is a terrible feeling, as the shooter is likely to beat the goaltender over the shoulder without the goalie even reacting.
Because RVH is a reactive position, body movement is required to make the save the majority of the time. Shooters will try to go high, and it is up to the goaltender to react with a post lean and get their shoulder sealed on the post.
Looking at the goal on Crawford from a different angle, it’s clear that he did not do that. He doesn’t react, and he doesn’t elevate his shoulder until the puck is already in the net. He actually looks down and lets the puck whiz right past his ear.
Another miscue on Crawford’s part was his failure to dig in the blade on his right skate. That foot should be firmly planted in order to drive that shoulder straight up if the shooter decides to try and go high, like in this situation.
Crawford’s foot is actually in the air when the shot is released, giving him no chance to react and push his shoulder into the post.
Alternatively, digging that back foot in is also an important part of RVH because if the shooter tries to jam the puck in, the goalie is required to push back.
Looking at the handy-dandy reverse-VH chart (posted previously on InGoal) with the shot location plotted with a green dot, we can see that RVH was a very appropriate choice based on where the shot was coming from.
The chart isn’t set in stone, but by following it Crawford was able to take away the jam-play option from Wilson. He also would have stopped this chance if he only made a proper seal on the post.
It almost seems like Crawford was caught off guard by how quickly Wilson’s shot was elevated. By the angle of his shoulders, he was expecting something along the ice, or chest-height at the very most.
Either way, the criticisms of the choice to use RVH in this situation are probably unwarranted. Yes, he could have used VH and stopped it, but what if Wilson tried to jam it in? What if he took a low, hard shot at Crawford’s stick and it allowed a juicy rebound in the slot?
There are many things that can be picked apart on any given goal, but save selection shouldn’t be number one on the list. The reverse-VH technique did its’ job, and it was the goaltender’s failure to react that caused the goal.
Plus, hey, give Colin Wilson a bit of credit for a fantastic shot.