Stars Goalie Coach Mike Valley Teaches InGoal the Reverse-VH
Not that it’s totally new. Cam Ward has been dropping to a paddle down position on the blocker side, and then using his pad to bounce off the post back into the middle, for years in Carolina. And Kari Lehtonen has been going post-to-post with his skates inside the net and using only his pad as leverage on the post for a couple of years now in Dallas.
But the rest of the goaltending world really started to catch on when Jonathan Quick took things to another level during his Stanley Cup run in Los Angeles. And sure enough, variations of his post integration technique were being taught at schools this summer.
Quick provided an extended look at the ultimate evolution of this save selection, not only defaulting to the Reverse-VH to take away both the vertical and horizontal angles on attacks from behind the net and below the goal line, but using his back leg to both anchor that position against the post, and provide leverage for a quick transition out of it.
In doing so, he showed the goaltending world the technique could be used not only as a better post-seal alternative to the traditional VH, but that you didn’t have to sacrifice quick transitions to the top of the crease by using it.
Other goalies like Ward had already shown you could transition laterally off the post – easily moving post to post along the goal line, in fact – without using a skate edge to push off the post. But Quick’s Conn Smythe Trophy-winning playoff run showed, it can also be transitioned quickly back up to the skates.
What Valley likes about the Reverse-VH is that it covers off both angles as well as the traditional VH, working effectively on wraps and jam plays as well as sharp-angle shots on low-high pass outs from behind the net. But it is less of a “locked-in” blocking position, allows the goalie to stay more active and reactive, makes it easier to find loose pucks along the ice down low after making a save, and is a lot easier to transition out of than VH.
All that said, Valley points out that the Reverse-VH is not as simple as it looks, especially the final transition back up to the skates. Even some of his college students struggled with the way Quick was able to execute it during the Elite Goalie School summer sessions, and there is an adjustment even for goalies at the top level.
So in the interest of simplifying things, Valley included a progression of the steps involved, along with some of the keys to mastering each stage in learning this skill.