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Better Pavelec Dead-Angle Options on Ducks Goal?

Better Pavelec Dead-Angle Options on Ducks Goal?
Did Ondrej Pavelec have better post-integration options on Duck tying goal in Game 3? (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

Did Ondrej Pavelec have better post-integration options on Duck tying goal in Game 3? (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

When the Anaheim Ducks tied up Game 3 against the Winnipeg Jets in the third period on Monday night, the overwhelming sense was “here we go again” and sure enough for a third-straight game the Ducks completed the late third period comeback to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinal.

From a goaltending standpoint, however, the temptation to break down the tying goal was too irresistible, especially since Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec left himself somewhat stranded outside his left post, giving Ryan Kesler a wide-open net after the Winnipeg defense failed to cover him on – or take away the passing lane to – the backdoor:

It was a fast-moving play and the defensive breakdown was a big reason the puck ended up in the net. Still it was still easy to wonder if Pavelec would have been better served switching to VH or reverse-VH as the puck was moved into a dead-angle play at the goal line, especially since one reason for developing the Reverse was to put more of the goaltender into the net space while covering the short-side post. Watching Kesler one-touch a shot into the middle, it was hard not to wonder if Pavelec makes a save just by having a pad covering even half the net:

To be clear, this wasn’t an attack on Pavelec, whose mostly overlooked evolution over the past two seasons under Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty has already been documented by InGoal writers. Again, it was fast-paced attack that became a dead-angle play at high speed down the left wing, leaving Pavelec little time to transition from playing it by squaring up to the original shooter. And as several pointed out in the lively twitter discussion that followed, there is a more immediate threat atop his crease he has to attend to before worrying about the backdoor. That back-and-forth on Twitter included opinions from former NHL goaltender and current TSN and RDS analyst Martin Biron, as well as former NHL goalie Mark Dekanich, who is now playing in Russia’s KHL.

Among those in the discussion was frequent InGoal contributor Dan Stewart, who is currently the goalie coach for the Cobourg Cougars of the OJHL, and owner of CT Crease Canada Goalie School. Dan, who works with many goalies in the Greater Toronto Area as well as New England, broke the play down with a nice video:

It’s not the first time the reverse-VH has been in the spotlight in these playoffs. InGoal already broke down a Reverse fail by Chicago’s Corey Crawford against the Nashville Predators that likely contributed to losing his starting job to Scott Darling. But for all the overuse and exploitation of the Reverse this season and into the playoffs, it’s fair to wonder if there are times when it may have been a better option. On that note, we’ll leave you with the Calgary’s Flames backbreaking third goal against Eddie Lack and the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 on Sunday night:

Lack starts in the reverse-VH as the play comes out from behind the net, but as the shooter moves higher into the zone he switches and squares up in a butterfly, one that leaves him, like Pavelec, outside his post, and unable to recover that space on the rebound because he is forced to make a full rotation right in his recovery.

Feel free to weigh in on both cases in the comments below, and remember we’re not looking to declare any definitive rights and wrongs – hey’s it’s easy to second guess in slow motion – but to spark a discussion that leaves goalies and goaltending coaches thinking and talking more about how the position is played.

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  1. BeninLondon

    I lack a certain amount of computer skills so I haven’t been able to slow down the Pavelec video but I keep looking at the centering pass, it almost appears to be deflected off the heel of the Ducks player in front. If that were to be the case it doesn’t change that he should have started his flattening out process a bit earlier and moved away from his overlap and sealed with his skate (which are both valid points in my opinion) but it does however turn the goal into a little more of a bad bounce that ended up on Kesler’s stick. Ultimately though I am personally inclined to point to the defensive zone coverage as the root cause of the goal…but maybe that is just being a Leafs fan and getting sick of seeing all 5 skaters focused solely on the puck.

    • Sean Grant

      BeninLondon, I believe you are right. The pass looks like it was intended for Cogliano but he is a lefty so he tries to stop/redirect the pass with his right skate and it ends up going right to Kesler. I think Pavelec could have made a save if he chose the VH or reverse for his save selection, just by being there and not having to move. Although this is one of those things where the D needs to know their goalie prefers the overlap/square to the puck when in dead-angle options so they can shut down the passing lanes and/or focus on man coverage.

      I feel Lack made a good decision on his play. He was in reverse VH, then scooted a little forward to get a better angle/cover the short side when the Flames forward turned like he was going to shoot. Unfortunately he lost sight of the puck and it was in his D’s feet and Lack went to cover the puck instead of seal the goal line and got burned.

      Personally I prefer the reverse VH on my blocker side (right), and VH on my glove side, mainly due to comfort level/flexibility and I prefer the on-the-goal-line type positions like King Henrik does so well. This way I have more of a chance to block a shot even if it’s a centering pass on the doorstep.

  2. B

    Don’t think Pavelec made a mistake really. Made himself as big as possible to take away the shot angle on Silfverberg, thought it was going to Cogliano, so he went down and in all likelihood would have made that save. Maybe a bit premature, but did anyone notice the four guys in blue who failed to pick up Kesler? hmm…

  3. Joe Feeney

    This is a case of a goalie being blamed to a point for the lack of DEFENSE. That being said we have the big pads to make the big SAVES! Pavelec went too far outside the crease and was dependent on the shot coming from outside, he did not give himself a chance to move to a shot from other than his glove side, and was hooked on the post when the pass came across. He could have used the OLD school technique of getting the skate against the post, been able to push off to challenge the shot, and may have even been hit in the stomach by the shot from Kessler.

  4. Upper Echelon Goaltending

    I’m inclined to feel it was a problem of defensive zone coverage. When you are playing, 5 on 3 down low, and you think you have the puck-carrier isolated, the goaltender should be allowed to (slightly over-) commit to the shooter/puck-carrier. There is nothing wrong with the goaltender forcing a player to not shoot and carry the puck more by over-commiting. And when you have 5 guys covering 2 slot options, all passing plays should have been covered as well.

    Pavelec’s mistake? Trusting his teammates.