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InGoal Pro Tip: Al Montoya backside butterfly recovery

InGoal Pro Tip: Al Montoya backside butterfly recovery

Scroll the the end of the story for a video run sequence of the drill

Al Montoya has been stopping pucks professionally for six seasons, so it was telling – but not at all surprising – to see the 25-year-old former first-round draft pick (sixth overall) of the New York Rangers out on the ice long after most of his San Antonio Rampage teammates had left a game day skate, working tirelessly on a simple drill that focused on backside recovery with a butterfly push.

Over and over again, with an assistant coach and pucks positioned on one side of the net (and then the other), Montoya would square up in the middle of the ice, drop into the butterfly to stimulate a save, and then recover in the direction of the coach, rotating his hips, loading up the power leg and driving himself across before gathering that push leg.

A sweat-soaked Montoya was kind enough to go over the drill – and what he wanted to get out of it – with InGoal Magazine afterwards. His help break down the sequence below should benefit goalies at every level, and becomes the first of a regular feature here at InGoal: The Pro Tip.

“I’m just focusing on staying tight, that’s my main focus in choosing that drill,” said Montoya, who without a goalie coach in the AHL and with few visits from Coyotes crease coach Sean Burke is on his own to keep improving. “Sometimes it’s just knowing what I want, or looking at the game tape or not feeling too comfortable with certain situations, and then you just got to go back out there and do the little things, the little drills, and get back out there and compete, and just re-evaluate.”

Montoya began the drills by coming back to the top of his crease each time and setting himself as if he was preparing for a shot from the center of the ice, never cheating over to one side or the other …

From there he would drop down — perhaps drive is a better term given how powerfully he accelerated to the ice — into the butterfly to stimulate a save. Again note he’s not leaning to the side where the pucks are set up for the recovery portion of this drill. If you’re cheating on a drill, you’re only cheating yourself …

… at this point (below) Montoya starts the recovery process by beginning to rotate his hips and upper body, opening towards the direction his intends to travel for the imaginary rebound (in this case towards the pucks on his left). Proper rotation is key before trying to move laterally to the next save position. It should align the goalie’s hips and shoulders – and that backside push skate edge – in the direction the goalie intends to travel, in this case back to Montoya’s left post. Goalies that start push sequence (two frames down) without rotating first tend to come across too flat across the top of the crease and are forced to extend to the post rather than being able to explode there and arrive compact …

If there is a fault in the above picture, it’s poor visual attachment, as Montoya is looking down to his right still, rather than establishing a good visual lead in the direction he is about to move. It’s important to maintain that attachment to the puck as that awareness is what initiates a post-save response. But after reviewing several other frames of Montoya doing this drill it’s clear the above phot0 was the exception. As you’ll see when he initiates his recovery push to the left below, the eyes are clearly focused on the puck …

At this point, Montoya is properly rotated the hips and started his push across, elevating the knee opposite of the direction he needs to travel, loading that backside skate edge  as close to the lead knee as possible in order to explode across the crease. There are several stages in this post-save process and Montoya said it’s possible to focus on different segments within the drill.

“If you feel like you are not coming off strong enough, work on your push,” he said. “If you feel like you have holes, work on staying tight.”

That’s exactly what Montoya is working on in the next two frames …

While we can see in the above frame that the explosive nature of the lateral push has opened up Montoya’s five hole as he moves across the crease, notice that the stick, which was flared out to his right a bit as he loaded up on that push leg and began the movement two frames above, has now been gathered back into that area to aid in coverage. And as you’ll see in the frame below, he is working hard to gather that push leg back under him again as quickly as possible and seal up that five-hole …

Remember, these camera frames are clicking away at three times a second, so the amount of time between being opened up (two shots ago), to the above shot, to the tightly sealed package we see below is actually less than a second as Montoya arrives at his next save angle ready for the rebound …

As Montoya gathers that push leg back under him, he also seals all the other holes under the arms.

“I’m just focusing on staying tight, that’s my main focus in doing that drill,” Montoya said. “It’s coming over compact and staying compact. Because I love to react, but there are certain situations where you’ve just got to get big, stay big and close the holes and I think those things you can’t do enough of, so that’s’ way I like to go back to the basics with a drill like this. It’s all about repetition.”

Look for more on the affable, talented Montoya, who is coming back from a season-ending shoulder injury suffered early last season, soon at InGoal Magazine, and be sure to keep checking back for more Pro Tips.

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.


  1. Paul Niles

    this is what i have to work on, good goalie and i hope he makes it back to the NHL soon.

  2. Rob

    I love this! It’s really helpful to see what drills the pros are using – especially when you’re a beer leaguer that’s never played on a “real” team before. I didn’t play any organized hockey in school or in a league with a coach, so this is really helpful. Thanks for thinking of us!


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