Ask a Pro with Alex Auld
As part of the weekly Ask A Pro feature here at InGoal Magazine, we caught up with Montreal Canadiens backup Alex Auld coming off a one-game road trip to Boston and got a chance to run a few of our reader’s questions by the 29-year-old goalie.
Auld, who has played for eight NHL teams over 10 pro seasons, is a true student of the position, and has long been an InGoal favorite for the thought and careful analysis he puts into his answers, always offering insightful takes on anything to do with stopping pucks.
In addition to talking about the fishbowl effect in Montreal, Auld had interesting takes on what a technical goalie like himself can learn from the acrobatics of Tim Thomas (and for the record, Thomas also says he learned about the importance of technique from Auld), and the evolution of – and potential problems for young goalies with – the VH, or one-pad down, technique.
Unfortunately one of Auld’s best responses was to the first question, which came from Rick Evoy, a reader and goalie coach in his native Thunder Bay, Ontario, but it was lost to an audio glitch and resulting technical problem (sorry Rick). The good news is we were able to salvage some of Auld’s thoughts, if not enough to include in the clip. So before you dig into the audio, have a quick read below because Auld’s thoughts on practice focus are a valuable lesson to all goalies.
InGoal reader Rick Evoy, a “goalie Coach for the T.Bay Kings now with the Queens” asked: “Since focus is one of the biggest part of a goalies game, what do you do to help you focus for practices and games?”
Auld said the problem isn’t calming himself down for big games because over time he has learned not to get too excited before he plays. What he has had to focus on, however, was getting hyped up a bit more for the lesser games on the schedule. But the real value for puck stoppers was when Auld talked about how he focuses in practice, especially ones not designed for goalies.
To start with, Auld stressed the importance of always working hard in every practice because “if you are not working hard in practice and making your movements as fast as you can, then you are going to get caught moving too slowly in games, when the pace gets faster,” he said. “So you have to make sure you push yourself to that faster pace during practice.”
So what about those drills in practice that aren’t usually helpful for goalies (and if you’ve ever stopped pucks you know exactly what we mean)? Auld stressed the importance of not getting upset or fed up with these kinds of drills, and instead forcing yourself to find one thing in your game as a goalie that you can focus on in that specific drill and then make sure you are doing it well each time. Often this means not worrying if the puck ends on up in the net. As Auld said, players typically have a lot more time in practice to out wait a goalie, keep changing the shooting angle, and pick corners – time they are rarely going to get in a game – so it’s important not to get discouraged when the puck goes in.
“Even in drills where it is not focused on goalies and can even be bad for goalies you have to force yourself to focus on one thing maybe and work on it rather than worry about ‘this drill sucks for goalies’ or worrying about whether the goal is scored,” Auld said. “Pick one thing in that drills that you can focus on and do it. Maybe recovery in slower drills it can be recoveries after a save.”