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Confidence: Carey Price and Alex Auld with Two Very Different Opinions

Confidence: Carey Price and Alex Auld with Two Very Different Opinions

Today we welcome Michel Godbout to the InGoal editorial team. Michel is the CBC Montreal sports reporter – and an avid goaltender. 30 years ago he and InGoal’s David Hutchison met at the Howie Meeker Hockey School in Stanstead, Quebec.

Montreal Goalie Carey Price

"You have to battle through it to get it back," says Montreal's Carey Price, on regaining confidence. Photo by Scott Slingsby


Bar none, a goalies most precious asset.
No technique, no over-sized-angle-cutting gear can replace it.
When experts say the game is “80% mental”, they’re mostly referring to confidence.

Losing it often comes in the wake of a softie. That bad goal that always travels with it’s merciless sidekick: self doubt.

Losing confidence is akin to playing goal without pads, no matter how hard you try, you know you’re missing a big piece of your game.

Be it the pros, the squirts or the beer-leaguers … we all know the gut wrenching feeling a bad goal gives us.

The obvious reason: we know we’ve let our teammates down.
Then the more subtle ones start to creep in.
We feel like the players confidence in us becomes brittle.
We assume the back-up is whispering to himself “put me in coach I’d never give up a bad one like that”. Some back-ups even say it out loud!
We hear simultaneous head scratching from fans, wondering how we let that one in.

The signs are all there, self doubt has just settled in and like a squatter you never know when he’ll leave.

“If you’re up 4-nothing and you let in a bad goal” says Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, “it’s a lot easier to shrug it off than when you’re down 2-1 and you let in a bad one then you’re down 2 goals so it’s a little bit tougher”.

And sometimes, it’s not a softie at all.
Just one of those games when scoring chances seem to materialize out of thin air.
Again, just the kind of situation that instills doubt and mines confidence.
The road to redemption is sometimes a long one.

Mike Smith of the Tampa Bay Lightning recently told In Goal, he was having a harder time with his confidence this season because the team was playing better therefor he wasn’t getting feeler shots in the first few minutes. Instead he was waiting longer for the first shot and when it finally came it often lit him up.

Of course Carey Price agrees with Goalie Golden Rule No. 1: if you give up a bad goal, forget it and focus on the next shot.
But what does he think about Smith’s dilemma?

“I can see how Smitty feels, there are some games when you get those shots from the point, there’s no traffic and you get to feel the puck and if you get 5 or 6 shots like that it gets you into the game. There are other games when the other team doesn’t shoot the puck and and all of a sudden it’ll pop out in the slot for a scoring chance and they bury it. Then you’re looking at a low shot count but you’re down a couple of goals, that definitely plays a role, I can see how he feels.”

“I don’t buy into it because those goals happen.” says veteran keeper Alex Auld from the other side of the Habs dressing room.
His take on softies and feeler shots is totally different.

“I think the biggest thing is not to require feeler shots at the start of a game. The biggest thing is to own your practice and your preparation. I mean there will be games that the first shot will go in and it shouldn’t affect you because you can stop all the rest and you can still win. I think you learn that as you mature. The games are just a product of all the work you put in off the ice and on the ice at practice. I know that when guys are struggling you feel like you need that puck early in the game but I think you need to get out of that trap.”

So what’s a goalie to do to regain such a paramount part of his game?

“You have no choice, you have to battle through it to get it back” says Price.

But there are pitfalls at getting our confidence back. The biggest one is to start looking for a big save that would put us back on track.

“You try to play too aggressive, you try too hard almost” says Price.
His advice: “Simply be patient and let the puck come to you.”

Montreal goalie Alex Auld

Alex Auld say "Just get back to basics" when you need to regain confidence. Photo by Scott Slingsby.

Auld perks up again across from Price.
“Just get back to the basics” he says.
Those same basics that sometimes get forgotten when confidence dwindles.

“The biggest thing for me is your practice habits and having your key fundamentals that you focus on everyday in practice, your positioning is so important, being set and stopped. Speed to position and get set so you can react to the shot. If you work on that daily and try to do it on every shot the games end up being a result of your effort.”

In short. Preparation. Focusing on the next shot. Not overplaying. THREE key elements TWO NHL goalies think will help with ONE big issue.

Confidence: not palpable like gear, not trainable like a muscle but just as worthy of our utmost attention, if not more so.

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  1. Matt in Montreal

    And for those of us who don’t get paid Seven Figures to play the game, sometimes the best thing to do is just laugh it off.

    Hey Godbout! Good post.

  2. paul szabo

    I can see how Auld would cultivate his type of mindset, seeing that he has not been a starter all his career. Many besides me have said that being the backup is one of sport’s hardest jobs (psychologically at least). I play 3-4 games a week and I still find it amazing how something in the first 2 minutes of a game, that we sometimes have no control over- seems to dictate what kind of game we have- a shot off the post instead of a goal, a save, a goal that deflects off somebody’s stick.

  3. Nino

    Recently, a 7-year old tyke goalie on a select team was pulled after the 7th goal, though he faced over 20 shots in less than 18 minutes and made many great saves. He had only 2 minutes left in his turn when he was pulled. (Goalies split games 2 periods: 1 period – a period is 10 min long.) A few days later the parent found out that the coach pulled him to save him from getting scored on too much and making him feel bad. At the time and to this date, not all spectators and teamates knew the coach’s line of thinking. The parent or goalie was not told about the reasons until the parent inquired. Unfortunately, the goalie felt bad being pulled anyway and lost his confidence (not to mention his teamates confidence in their goalie). As a 7 year old and for older goalies, being pulled is not a good feeling. This 7 year old goalie watches sports shows on TV and that week all the commentators were talking about Luongo and how badly he was playing and how he got pulled more than once. Conincidentally, it was also the week this goalie was pulled. Perhaps he was comparing himself to Luongo’s situation. Then he saw Gustavson and Scrivens being pulled this week. Now every time he lets in a goal he looks to the bench wondering if he will be pulled. He only started playing hockey for the first time 8 weeks ago but managed to make the select team. How can we reinstall the confidence in this tyke goalie? He is a natural and has a lot of potential. But this incident has left him feeling insecure with his abilities. It is easier for older goalies to battle it out and go back to basics but do you have any specific advice for this goalie and his instructors?

  4. Taylor Olson

    Did he change to Vaughn pads and if he did y would he reeboks r way better

  5. Taylor Olson

    No effence to the goalies that wear Vaughn’s but reeboks are way better