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Save Analysis: Pekka Rinne at IIHF World Championship

Save Analysis: Pekka Rinne at IIHF World Championship
(InGoal photo by Kevin Woodley)

(InGoal photo by Kevin Woodley)

Desperation saves can be a touchy subject among certain goaltending circles. The general way of thinking is, if you’re good you won’t put yourself in situations where you have to make a desperation save.

That is true to an extent, but no goaltender is perfect.

At the NHL level, even the strongest, most balanced goaltenders in the world find themselves in situations that require out-of-the-box thinking to make the save.

Whether a mistake is made, or a shooter simply makes a nice move – goaltenders at all levels need to have some element of desperation in their game. Some schools even teach it, as we recently pointed out in an article here at InGoal.

Case in point, this save from Pekka Rinne while playing for Team Finland at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus.

This GIF is courtesy of @myregularface on Twitter.

This GIF is courtesy of @myregularface on

That save was made on Damien Brunner of team Switzerland, and happened in the shootout of a 2-2 game that Finland would go on to win.

Rinne is known to be aggressive, and sometimes makes the first move a little bit early, but it’s hard to fault him on this shootout attempt. Brunner makes a spectacular “Datsyuk-style” move on his forehand which causes Rinne to close up his five-hole, expecting a shot.


It ended up being a bad choice for Rinne, because it is a great fake and Brunner continues the deke toward his blocker side. At this point, Rinne knows that he is caught. He is near the top of his crease and there is a ton of space on the blocker side for Brunner to shoot at. He stretches out his right leg and transitions into a paddle down position in hopes that Brunner will still try to shoot five-hole, or that the puck will come close enough that he can extend his arm and knock it away.


That doesn’t happen. Brunner has Rinne at his mercy and they both know it, so he’s going to shoot high blocker side. Here’s where the magic happens. Rinne doesn’t have time to fully load his left leg for a push, but he still digs his blade in to try and get as much of a push as possible. It’s not much, but it does move him over a little bit. Now desperation kicks in and the key is just trying to get some body part on the shot – it doesn’t matter how. Rinne continues to intensely track the puck, which keeps his shoulders down and allows him to throw his right arm and shoulder at the puck with as much effort as he can.


He barely manages to get his blocker on it, and the save is made. If Rinne didn’t track the puck with his eyes like that, he would not have even come close. Maintaining a visual attachment to the puck is once again the most important thing about this save. When a lot of goalies are beat on dekes like this, their momentum is taking them back towards the glove side. They will stretch out and reach for the puck to no avail, because their head and body are pulling them the other way. That’s part of what makes dekes like this so effective.

Rinne does the opposite. He drives downward and toward the puck for a great display of core strength and flexibility. A save like this has Mitch Korn’s fingerprints all over it. Side note: Nashville fans can rest at ease, it looks like Rinne’s hip is going to be just fine.

Yes, Rinne was caught out of position, and yes, he had to make a desperation save, but every goalie will be faced with challenges like this throughout the course of a season. The moral is, don’t get caught without having some type of desperation save in your goalie toolbox. It’s like a secret weapon. You don’t want to use it, but you need to have it just in case. Track down and toward the puck, and you will always have a chance of getting a piece of the shot. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Greg BallochGreg Balloch is an on-air analyst, writer and Vancouver Canucks reporter for Sportstalk on AM 650 based out of Richmond, British Columbia. He was previously an instructor for Grainger Minard Goaltending Development in Hamilton, Ontario and now teaches for Pro4 Sports in Vancouver. For more information on Pro4’s goaltender training programs, you can visit their website here.

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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.