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Three-frame Breakdown: Nilsson’s Tricky Stick Predicament

Three-frame Breakdown: Nilsson’s Tricky Stick Predicament

The LA Kings score their second goal of the night against Vancouver’s Anders Nilsson on a pinpoint-precise pass from behind the net. It threads the needle between the defender’s blade and the goaltender’s:


There’s not much a goalie can do once the pass gets though. However, did Nilsson make the best decision on the pass itself? He plays it conservatively, stick positioned to most efficiently defend against the shot should the pass get through.

But what if he had turned the blade over, actively trying to impede the pass?


In this case, turning the blade over might have worked in his favour, but does it leave too many holes and reduce lateral efficiency too much to be the standard strategy in this situation? What do you think? Have your say in the comments below.

About The Author

Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is a writer at InGoal, and a former CIS goaltender and women's goaltending coach for Mount Allison University. He occassionally moonlights as a university literature instructor.


  1. Vintage Goalie

    Personally, back in the day I favoured an active stick to intercept passes from behind my net. But these days that is considered a high-risk commitment. All I can say is that my defence certainly appreciated my taking away the pass, leaving them to cover the man in front.

  2. Stew

    I’m a big fan of active stick to block passes from behind the net. Even without the D supporting and further closing out the passing lane, the active stick and glove hand force the angle of the pass to closer in to the short side, leaving less lateral distance to cover or the passer is forced to elevate the puck making it harder for a shooter to control and make a play to the net. Giving the goalie a split second more time to assess and position. Trade off is definitely putting the five hole and far post at risk.

    • Doug

      This is exactly my opinion as well.

  3. Carl LaRosa

    As we can in these clips, even NHL defensemen fail to pick up the guy in front of the net, meaning goalies need to protect against the pass just in case. Yes, the stick is positioned to play the shot if the pass were to get through, but most often, goalies don’t have enough time to react. I prefer turning the blade over to get my stick in the passing lane, even if that hinders my ability to recover if the pass goes through.

  4. Peter

    Very interesting situation! I think a number of things goes wrong in this situation. First of all he is Swedish. His generation and especially himself plays the reverse v-h to perfection! But, in this case he gets caught in between a standing position and the R-VH. I believe he doesn’t want to turn his stick when standing as it leaves another opportunity for the passer. To bounce the puck of the heal of his blade and through him ( 5-hole ) He does go down into the R-VH but to late. I think he should have gotten down earlier and angled his blade to cover the passing lane. Also, in a tight situation like this, there isn’t really any time to react from that standing position. Yes/no?

  5. Abram

    My choice: turn the blade.

  6. Cam

    Let’s not over think this. If when the play is on your glove side the best you can hope for is to slide your hand up your stick a bit and extend it out in what amounts to a poke check position. That way you can still hold your stance and I believe give yourself a better chance to move laterally should the pass get thru. If the play is on your stick side you have a better chance to block the lane by having your sticjktight to the post and again give yourself a better chance to hold your post and then cover the other side of the net if needec

  7. Oliver C

    Turn the blade. Especially if you’re not going to get a good track and push off the pass anyhow. He has the extreme opposite stick position
    – and it still isn’t square to the potential slot shot. He doesn’t do a wrist rotation to lead into the track in the first place so how would turning the blade hurt him? The way he plays it isn’t making him more efficient or eliminating motion to begin with.

  8. MK Ultra

    I must confess, this video left me flummoxed. I can’t understand why an NHL goalie would not, by a simple action, reduce the danger of a play so close to the net. Covered attacker, south of the goal line, with no angle to the front to speak of. It appears to me the only danger he presents lies in a centering pass. By sticking the blade out and making such a pass more difficult, Nilsson would only be helping himself and his defense. That’s mental hockey 101.

  9. Jonathon

    I think he should have turned the stick over. I have always tried to block the pass to the middle. In the past, I was too agressive and put myself out of position but recently I’ve scaled it back. Now I simply tuck the heel of my stick aginst the toe of my pad. This leaves me in a sealed post stance, it doesnt put my blocker out of commission and I haven’t had any problems getting across from that stance. The only drawback, as mention, is that second where you have to turn the stick back to cover the fivehole.

  10. Joe Feeney

    As a goalie coach, I have brought up the idea of a “Prevention” Meaning the goalie prevents an opportunity for a great , or even good scoring chance. Keeping the stick in front oath toes and allowing a smooth flat passing lane to be utilized by the offense and leaving an easy catch and shot for the player back door. I would prefer to see the stick turned over and active! The pass is far more difficult, and the catch also more difficult if the pass gets through. In this situation, a saucer pass is far more difficult due to the short are to get he puck up and down again, and FLAT on the ice. There is also a very good chance to deflect the pass and make it uncomfortable to catch. The deflection of the pass, or stopping of it, is what I consider a prevention. A positive play and frustrating the opponent.

  11. Jakob

    I think he should have turned over the stick to block the pass. I play Bantam 1 and I am very athletic and agile, so I know that I can get to the puck with my stick, even if it gets through my attempt to block the pass. I know also that the other night, I was playing a game where opposition passed it in front of the crease to another player for a high quality shot. My D had left the guy in front of the net open, so the pass was made as he was skating back to cover the guy. I knew that the shot would be a great opportunity to score and being an undersized goalie at 5 feet and 90 pounds (for now 🙂 that if my positioning was just a little off that would give the puck so room, so I went for the paddle-down to stop the puck in front of the crease, knowing that even if it wasn’t controlled well enough that it might bounce off my incoming defenders skate and back to me to cover it. That’s what I think.