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Preds’ Hutton and Stars’ Valley on Shifting Into Shots

Preds’ Hutton and Stars’ Valley on Shifting Into Shots
Nashville Predators goalie  Carter Hutton says shifting into shots was a big part of his adjustment to the NHL last season.  (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoalMag)

Nashville Predators goalie Carter Hutton says shifting into shots was a big part of his adjustment to the NHL last season. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoalMag)

Carter Hutton played more than even he expected during his first full NHL season, finishing 20-11-4 in 40 appearances with a .910 save percentage and a contract extension from the Nashville Predators.

There were some ups and downs as Hutton was quickly pressed into a heavier-than-expected workload after expected No.1 Pekka Rinne suffered a setback infection following offseason hip surgery. But Hutton continued to build as the season went on, giving up just eight goals and posting his first NHL shutout while winning his final five starts. Along the way, Hutton made strides under goalie coach Mitch Korn, who has since departed for the Washington Capitals, earning the trust of – and a two-year, $1.45-million contract extension from – the Predators.

Hutton sat down with InGoal Magazine late last season and one of the adjustments he talked about as being key to his impressive first season was shifting – not sliding – into shots in the NHL.

“The biggest adjustment to the NHL was being patient and it was kind of always my knock,” said Hutton, who spent the previous two years in the Chicago Blackhawks system. “In Chicago they always told me I needed to be more patient, more patient, and maybe in the AHL I got away with it a little bit because guys weren’t picking spots as much as they can up here. So it’s that extra split second of staying on my feet a bit longer and trusting my footwork to be solid and make my upper body bigger. I can’t be a blocker unless it’s a quick, in-tight play.”

The 6-foot-1 Hutton has always been fast and athletic, but needed to control it better in the NHL.

By shifting into shots, Hutton put himself in better position for any rebounds that got away from him. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoalMag)

By shifting into shots, Hutton put himself in better position for any rebounds that got away from him. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoalMag)

“I need to be reactive. I need to stay on my feet,” he said. “And that’s where shifting and dropping into pucks has really helped me – so if pucks do come off me I am in a better position to make a secondary save. But it’s not a slide. It’s a happy medium between a slide, more like just an off-center drop and keeping my legs tight, not opening up, which causes me to lose all my power to get to second saves.”

Moving into shots rather than dropped straight down allowed Hutton to stay centered on pucks and reach less, which also shortened the distance he had to cover if a rebound got away from him. But as he stressed, sliding into shots is another story altogether, one that can cause problems if you get caught going the wrong way on tips.

It’s a technique Dallas Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley reviewed in the July 2012 edition of InGoal Magazine, and as we prepare to re-launch the magazine in August, it’s a worthwhile trip back into the archives for any goaltender looking to improve this summer.

After establishing the importance of reading shots off the stick and moving into them, Valley, who is also a disciple of Mitch Korn (they call themselves “Children of the Korn”), explains how to break down your save zones into quadrants, and than outlines the process of pushing into pucks in four steps:

1. Perception Speed

2. Mental/Decision Speed

3. Initiation Speed

4. Performance Speed

From there Valley moves on to outline how to train goalies to push into pucks. It’s a valuable lesson for the summer time, when most are attending goalie camps, and one that includes direction for coaches about how too much rapid fire doesn’t give young goalies a chance to reset and try to truly read a puck off the stick, leading to too much of the drop and block – Valley calls it “drop and hope” – that we are trying to get away with by creating reactive goalies that move into shots rather than default dropping straight down every time.

You can read the entire article in the InGoal archives here, or by clicking on the image below.

Pushing into pucks Article

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.