Before The Shot: Active Mindset Keys Quick Save
For many years, goalie coaches have been emphasizing the use of active hands; the ability to fully track the puck and react to where it’s going using the blocker or glove to make a save.
While it’s easy to notice when goalies use their hands to make saves on shots from a distance, it’s even more impressive to see them have an active mindset on pucks that are closer in distance. The reason is because there’s a very fine line between the distance a blocking save covers compared to a reactive save.
Here’s an example from a game between the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals on Mar. 9.
We’re going to start looking at this sequence as Capitals forward Marcus Johansson moves towards the net with the puck. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick loses sight of the puck for a brief moment because of the traffic in front and commits to the ice.
Once Quick realizes that Johansson still has the puck, he locates it by turning his head. Quick starts his recovery movement to his left by rotating his hips and bringing up his right leg to push across.
What comes next is most important.
Quick turns his hand over and extends it forward. This subtle change/rotation makes such a difference from the puck’s perspective. If we were to put a camera behind the puck, we’d see barely any opening in the net. This is what’s often referred to as “taking the aerial angle.”
We can see here that Quick is tracking the puck and makes contact with it with his glove well in front of his body. When goalies at least make contact with the puck in front of their body, it makes it easier to locate the rebound (if there is one) because the puck will most likely land within the goalie’s view on the ice. The result is quicker recoveries to the puck.
It’s a matter of inches
It’s important for goalies to understand the difference between having a blocking versus reactive mindset. And that’s exactly what it is, a mindset. If you start your save selection process by thinking what time of save you will make, the type of reaction you make to the shot will follow.
The lesson here is to maintain a reactive mindset even if it seems like the player or puck doesn’t have much room. As the saying goes, hockey is a game of inches. Quick gained valuable coverage by a matter of inches by rotating and extending his glove hand outward to take away space from the puck.
~ Eli Rassi is currently the goaltending coach with the Carleton Place Jr. “A” Canadians in the Central Canada Hockey League. He is also an instructor and consultant with Complete Goaltending Development (CGD). CGD offers on-ice group, semi-private and private training programs, and consulting services for minor hockey associations, for goaltenders at all levels in Ottawa at its training facility in the city’s West end, the Complete Hockey Development Centre. For more information, please visit www.chdcentre.com or www.cgdgoalies.com