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Poor Reverse-VH Execution Burns Crawford

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:

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.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.


  1. Pierre Mocka

    His technique is poor, it is therefore not cover properly when they take a shot or crush the net!
    Give me an hour with him on ice and I will solve the problem!

  2. Alex Porter

    Not looking big Crawford and needed to cover that post area

  3. BeninLondon

    I am noticing that he uses his skate on the post in the RVH as opposed to the boot of the pad, what are the prevailing thoughts on if he were to use the boot of the pad on the post in order to get a little taller in the upper body and create a better post seal. From my experience I have seen the boot/shin of the pad as an option when there isn’t enough flexibility in the hips or ankles (read beer league or young goalies)

  4. Billy

    BeninLondon, you bring up a great point about beer leaguers. I am one and have been dealing with a RVH-related right ankle injury. I’ve been using the skate against the post, and I have to sit back and put a lot of weight on my ankle to seal the post. What I should have been doing is what you mentioned – putting my skate in the net a bit and sealing the post with the boot/shin of the pad.

  5. Stefan

    As with all relatively new technique (the reverse VH has been around for 3-4 years now), it’s still in developmental stages. As with the regular VH it takes time for the goalies and more so goalie coaches to understand when and where to use it. The reality is that he regular VH had been taking out way too much from a goalies aresenal and modern day coaches need to incorporate it back in a bit more. When this happens porperly (probably in another 3-4 for years) players will have almost no chance at scoring from in close. I like how the diagram dictates to stand up low and wide where it does and I strongly agree with using the reverse VH on plays coming from behind the net. However, goaltenders need to start being more dynamic on there save section when the weak angle attacks come from infront of the goaline. They need to start incorporating more VH and even more wide active split stance ( it’s a wide regular stance in which goaltenders can drop into either the VH or Reverse VH). I know I’m going on rant here, but what ever happened to tempting the shooter with the 5-hole (or any hole) and taking it away. This whole constantly dropping down before the play happen leads to passive goaltenders and encourages players to make better plays. I am not against dropping early but it has its time and place (when the play is within a stick length, some attacks from behind the net with a pass option in front…etc…)

  6. GB

    An excellent illustration of why the SMS/RVH should *not* be used as a passive block against elite and/or unobstructed shooters, unless the puck is so close that the available aerial angle is minimal (eg. on a wrap or a jam)

    Good catch on the reverse angle of lazy/disengaged backside foot, which is indeed crucial for leverage.

    My central objection to Crawford’s use of the SMS/RVH here, however, centres on his glove. By jamming it down onto his pad, trying to make a passive wall, he’s removed the glove from any reactive role. While the range is too tight for a true reaction save, if Crawford had held his glove in an active posture, held out toward the puck with the pocket pointing up and the cuff covering the possible trajectory toward the triangular ‘ass-gap’ above the pas in the SMS/RVH, he could have ‘cut the beam’ from Wilson’s stick to the roof of the net.