Alex Nedeljkovic is coming off an impressive — and extremely eventful – first full season in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes. Surprisingly unclaimed after being put on waivers to get him to the taxi squad, he emerged as the Hurricanes starting goalie by the time the playoffs started, winning a first-round series against the Nashville Predators, being named a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, and earning a spot on the NHL All-Rookie team.
Nedeljkovic also earned a lot of fans in the goaltending community during a candid pre-playoff appearance on the InGoal Radio Podcast, and after hearing him share his insights into the position and how he played it so openly and honestly, we knew we had to get him back for Pro Reads. This is the first of those instalments after Nedeljkovic took a break from his offseason training to break down video for over an hour, a session so good we knew we couldn’t keep our Premium Members waiting for Part 2, so we combined two saves (and three different sequences actually) into this first entry from the impressive Hurricanes rookie.
Both plays are against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 20, and since that was Nedeljkovic’s first NHL shutout we already know he makes both saves. Both involve a passing play from below the goal line, but they are different in the way that Nedeljkovic plays them.
The first one comes with Blake Coleman racing to retrieve a puck in the corner to Nedeljkovic’s left as other Tampa Bay players come across the blue line behind him:
Those trailing attackers aren’t even both in the frame yet in the photo above, but Nedeljkovic is looking up ice at them rather than at Coleman or the puck in the corner. What elements do you think he might be scanning for before this play get taken behind the net? What would you be looking for, and how might it affect the way in which you would play it?
Now let’s take a look at the entire sequence, including the save:
Watching how this played out, and the way Nedeljkovic reacts coming across into reverse-VH and then making the save without getting up and out of it, is there anything you’d try to do different? Can you see any reasons he’d want to play it from his knees?
THE PRO READ
Now let’s hear Nedeljkovic break it down, including the importance of identifying threats early:
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