NHL Analysis: Penguins Fleury Blocker Save
In an effort to provide more regular goaltending analysis here at InGoal Magazine, we are happy to announce a new “NHL analysis” feature.
In these articles, goalie coaches from schools that partner with InGoal will be given an opportunity to break down the play of NHL goaltenders, whether it is displaying great focus on a 2-on-1, excellent footwork, a new technique, or pure desperation. There will be plenty of pictures, videos and GIFs used to help give readers a clear look at the play in question.
As an example of what to expect, here is some analysis of Marc-Andre Fleury’s blocker save on Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks on November 18th:
To start the play, Fleury does well to recognize the 2-on-1 situation and challenges the shooter accordingly. He is clearly aware of the secondary threat of Andrew Cogliano coming down the left wing, and does not over-challenge the shooter. His defenceman Paul Martin unfortunately lets him down as he gets caught up trying to execute a poke-check, but misses the puck. As the pass starts to come across, Fleury loads his weight on his left leg and gets a very strong lateral push.
It looks as if Cogliano is aware of Fleury’s exceptional ability to move from side to side and hesitates for a split second to carry the puck farther to Fleury’s right. That hesitation allows Fleury to continue his slide and cover a lot of space in the crease by moving into the full splits, displaying his incredible flexibility.
Cogliano actually elevates the puck quickly, but Fleury stays focussed on the puck and makes a minor adjustment with his blocker. He raises it up just enough to get a piece, sending it out of harm’s way into the corner. His focus during the slide is what really stands out, because it allowed him to make that extra adjustment. That adjustment was likely the difference between a goal and a save.
It’s also important to note that Fleury did not blindly push across content to get a piece of equipment on the puck. Many goalies would have turned that save into a desperation move, reaching perhaps with the pad and falling forward content to take away the bottom of the net, but lunging at it like that would not have been successful.
Using the same focus mentioned earlier, Fleury was able to recognize that a lunge was not going to work. He read the play, knew to keep his body up as much as possible, and was able to make the blocker adjustment. It was a very difficult save, but of course Fleury manages to do it with some flair.
You can watch the NHL-provided video of the entire play below:
Greg Balloch is an on-air analyst, writer and Vancouver Canucks reporter for Sportstalk on AM 650 based out of Richmond, British Columbia. He was previously an instructor for Grainger Minard Goaltending Development in Hamilton, Ontario and now teaches for Pro4 Sports in Vancouver. For more information on Pro4’s goaltender training programs, you can visit their website here.