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Overlap (OL) Technique: Another Sharp-Angle Option

Overlap (OL) Technique: Another Sharp-Angle Option
Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads demonstrates the overlap technique.

Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads demonstrates the overlap technique.

Regular InGoal contributor Tomas Hertz teamed up with goaltending coach Kory Cooper to take an in-depth look at a new technique to deal with sharp-angle threats.

Cooper played major junior for the Belleville Bulls and minor pro in the ECHL and IHL before turning to coaching, working as a goalie coach for the Kingston Frontenacs in the Ontario Hockey League and Director of Hockey Operations for Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Cooper is currently the goaltending coach for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, Queens University Golden Gaels mens Varsity team in the CIS, and the Brampton Beast of the Central Hockey League, and also works at Fineline Conditioning and Athletic Academy while residing in Kingston, Ontario.

In this introductory article, Hertz and Cooper present a relatively new technique for poor-angle shots: Overlap.


The Overlap (OL) technique adds an additional save option to those already established for dealing with shots between the goal line and the bottom of the face-off circle. These include the VH (Vertical-Horizontal, or one-knee up as some call it) and the newer Reverse-VH, with the lead pad down on the ice and against the post.

The intended zone (shaded( for sharp-angle attacks to use the Overlap technique.

The intended zone (shaded) for sharp-angle attacks to use the Overlap technique.

Although not familiar with its exact origin, or how prevalent its application is within the overall goaltending community, the OL is already established in the “toolbox” of some goalies.

This includes Antti Niemi, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season with the San Jose Sharks, and Danny Taylor, who is currently playing in Sweden’s top pro league after finishing last season with the Calgary Flames.

With OL, the goaltender initially maintains an up-right “relaxed” stance with one skate on the outside (overlapping) of the goal post. The skate distance from the goal post may vary slightly, but it is never really more than several inches.

The “relaxed” stance merely implies the goaltender is not in a complete crouch. This allows them to remain uncommitted as to which save selection is ultimately chosen as the play continues to unfold and develop.

Danny Taylor, who was dominant in the AHL before signing with the Calgary Flames last season, used OLT on a regular basis. (Photo by Clint Trahan)

Danny Taylor, who was dominant in the AHL before signing with the Calgary Flames last season, used the Overlap technique (OL) on a regular basis, placing his short-side skate just outside of the near-side post. (Photo by Clint Trahan)

If the goaltender decides OL is the correct save selection choice, the nature of the stance naturally changes to one of greater “readiness” as the puck-carrier advances closer to the net.

In this photo the threat is more imminent and Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads, Colorado's 3rd round pick this past spring, is in a full crouch ready in the Overlap, as opposed to VH or reverse VH.

In this photo the threat is more imminent and Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads, Colorado’s 3rd round pick this past spring, is in a full crouch ready in OL, as opposed to VH or reverse VH.

The best technique to use will naturally vary from one situation to another, and hence patience is required prior to committing to any specific save selection.

With three different options at the goaltender’s disposal, the natural question is whether one technique is superior to others.

We believe the OL technique is complimentary to the VH technique. The main reason for this is that a skilled goaltender can easily transition back and forth between the OL skate position (outside the post) and traditional position (inside the goal post) with VH.

An argument has been made that this transition is not easy and that “clearing the post” is a point of weakness with OL. But the following two video segments show this doesn’t have to be the case.

The first segment features Grant Rollheiser of the Central Hockey League’s Brampton Beast “clearing the post” while initially remaining upright for a pass out. A lateral slide is then performed. In a subsequent repetition, Rollheiser makes a “paddle-down” save, again from the OL position.

The second segment has former London Knight – and current Queen’s Golden Gaels – goalie Kevin Bailey executing this manoeuvre from the butterfly position.

The movement sequence mimics narrow shuffling down towards the post as a play progresses into the area between the bottom part of the face-off circle and the goal line. Thereafter, the goaltender chooses OL and drops to the butterfly position. The post is easily cleared as the goaltender pushes to the far side of the net.

Clearing the post is therefore a movement pattern to be practiced habitually in order to develop proper muscle memory to make it a refined skill. The goaltender merely has to become comfortable stepping in and out while clearing the post.

Note the vertical seam between post and goalie Danny Taylor is maintained far more easily in the Overlap than in the VH position. There is often an opening between the vertical pad in VH, especially with tall goaltenders, that can lead to holes an poor weak-side goals.

Note the vertical seam between post and goalie Danny Taylor is maintained far more easily in the OL than in the VH. There is often an opening between the vertical pad in VH, especially with tall goaltenders, that can lead to holes an poor weak-side goals.

We believe OL has certain advantages over VH.

One is that the goaltender is not anchored to the post. Therefore, once comfortable with clearing the post, OL allows the freedom of dropping to a complete butterfly, transitioning back to VH, pushing-sliding towards the top of the crease, or performing a backside push.

The principle advantage, however, lies in comfortably maintaining squareness and shoulder position along the vertical seam between goalie and post, both while standing and in a butterfly drop.

Conversely, if the goalie drops to butterfly position from VH, their torso is naturally somewhat removed from the post (skate-to-knee length) because the skate was anchored to that post.

Goaltenders can still make a save on short-side rebounds, but must lean the torso back towards the post, or make a reactionary glove save. In the third video segment, Danny Taylor drops on a couple of reps and, while having his skate against the post, leans his torso back towards the post to help close the large open net space:

The only other option is performing extra moves by flexing the knee and pushing back towards the post. The skate and part of the pad would then be on the inside of the post, thus eliminating the undesirable gap.

The OL technique eliminates the need for these considerations.

Queen's goalie Chris Clarke shows no available net while in the Overlap position. The weak-side pad should not be flared too much to avoid unnecessary rebounds into the slot.

Queen’s goalie Chris Clarke shows no available net while in OL. The weak-side pad should not be flared too much to avoid unnecessary rebounds into the slot.

The problem is the post is a tough fixed anchor. It is frequently difficult to completely seal the seam between the body and post in VH despite the best intentions of the technique. To what degree this is based on the technique, incorrect save selection or flawed execution is up for debate.

A perfect VH technique by Chris Clarke of Queens University, with no seam available between the post and his body.

A perfect VH technique by Chris Clarke of Queens University, with no seam available between the post and his body.

Regardless, the fact remains that VH is neither an anatomically natural nor comfortable position. It is riddled with flaws and holes resulting in a large quantity of unnecessary goals.

As noted, one VH problem includes the vertical pad and torso often leaning away from the post with resultant holes. It occurs with all goaltenders but seems more common with oversized goaltenders. With knee and hip tension and strain in the VH, the goalie tends to lean the vertical pad off the post to alleviate strain and make it easier to push off the post if necessary. The OL closes this seam in the vertical plane in contrast to VH with what is hopefully greater versatility.

We also believe OL is a safer option than VH on the blocker side. Here, the goal stick is in a position of weakness vis-à-vis the catching side. The stick blade is left on the forehand side and, if using any part of the arm to integrate to the post (for balance and control), the movement range of the stick is quite limited.

Furthermore, the seam along the ice between the vertical and horizontal pad on this side is a frequent source of poor goals due to weak stick-blade angle and control issues. This is especially true when someone is trying to “jam” the puck in during a scramble.

On the trapper side, the stick could be dropped to a “paddle down” position (note Rollheiser video) while remaining in VH. This, however, is really not anatomically possible, or of practical value, on the blocker side.

These concerns are all eliminated in OL with proper technical and tactical application. A butterfly in OL eliminates the stick-blade weakness concerns and continues to seal the vertical seam with an upright torso.

Another problem frequently reduced with OL are the “bar-down” goals with VH that occasionally make the highlight real. This often occurs on the glove side between the cross bar and the top of the glove. The goalie’s arm is usually resting on the vertical pad knee or is off to the side of the net at ill-advised angles.

If the goaltender remains patiently upright in OL position, this unnecessary goal can be eliminated. However, if the goaltender drops early from OL, or is quite short in stature, the top shelf remains open to the best shooters and the outcome is no better.

Conversely, if one choses VH over OL, would it not make sense to raise the trapper to the cross bar? In this case, a small hole may exist between knee and elbow, but the goalie is playing “the odds” that the shooter will go for the top part of the net. A loose jersey may also eliminate that concern.

All of this also depends on the physical stature, skill level and preferred save selection of each goaltender.

A VH variant was discussed by former Montreal Canadien’s goaltender coach Pierre Groulx in the article titled Dead Arm OKD for InGoal Magazine.

Chris Clarke demonstrating Dead Arm One Knee Down (or Dead Arm VH)

Chris Clarke demonstrating Dead Arm One Knee Down (or Dead Arm VH)

The photo of Carey Price  used to lead off the article finds the trapping-glove arm down and basically locked between the vertical pad and goal-post. This means the trapper is not in a position where a reactive-type movement to the top of the net can be made. Groulx correctly notes using the arm to seal the seam between pad and post “allows the goaltender to angle and load the post skate in a position that allows them to recover faster to the middle – or simply by dropping it (i.e., the V-pad) to the ice to make it easier to deal with a short-side rebound.”

Sealing the vertical seam with the trapping-glove arm proves the seam exist and that the naturally tendency is for the vertical leg to lean off the post. This technique should be good with tall goaltenders such as Price where, even in the absence of the trapping glove, minimal room is available under the cross-bar.

In OL, the arm and glove remain free to catch a puck or potentially cover it quickly.

Another important consideration with OL is the presence of a defenseman with net-side positioning towards the low slot. This criterion reduces the possibility of the attacking player driving across the crease to the far side of the net, which reduces the need to push towards the far post and hopefully controls the situation.

Furthermore, when performing a butterfly drop from the OL, it’s important to limit the amount of pad flare to the weak side. Everyone is familiar with the significant amount of slot rebounds created with shots off the horizontal pad with VH and routine pad saves off the rush. The goaltender should not square up excessively to the puck as this may increase the frequency of rebounds towards the slot.

If no trailer is driving the net, the puck can however be directed towards the slot to a teammate in what can become a quick transitional play. Nevertheless, in most cases shallow-angle rebounds to the weak-side are usually the best outcome.

The other option with these low angled shots is of course Reverse VH.

In his article Mastering the Reverse VH for InGoal Magazine, Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley explains how the Reverse VH is very effective in “sealing the post” (both the vertical and horizontal planes) and eliminating to the aforementioned problems with VH (see photo on page 90 of coach Valley’s article).

We agree that with pass-outs and walk-outs from immediately behind the net the reverse VH is safer and far more versatile than VH for goaltenders with the pre-requisite skills. This is also not a situation where OL would be effective and it does not really compliment reverse VH.

With the puck behind the net there is no reason to have the skate on the outside of the post. This is dangerous and may lead to poor goals off the skate or the back of the leg. Moving from OL to reverse VH is also too technically time consuming and inefficient.

The question is whether OL is better than reverse VH from the bottom of the face-off circle to the goal line with low net-drives, low walk-outs from the quiet areas and random shots from poor angles. This is difficult to answer and may again depend on the technical skills and preference of each goalie.

Reverse VH may be be more effective with the play unfolding below the goal line, while OL may become the technique of choice for certain situations for which traditional VH has been employed, but with mixed reviews.

A final advantage of OL pertains purely to goal-post integration.

With VH and Reverse-VH techniques, integration involves several technical considerations. This include variation in pad, skate, stick and glove positioning. These technical elements must first be taught and practiced to attain a certain level of comfort and confidence prior to use in competition. Furthermore, technical factors can make it more difficult to execute these techniques dynamically during chaotic situations.

OL has the advantage of using techniques already established in a goaltender’s “toolbox,” including a “relaxed” stance, “full crouch” stance, butterfly, hip swivels, pushes and slides, with great liberty since no contact exists between the goaltender’s body, skate and the post.

In conclusion, the OL technique is a fairly new technique some goaltenders have added to their game. It involves positioning the goal-skate on the outside of the goal post, and allows complete coverage of the vertical seam along the post if the goaltender demonstrates good patience on their feet.

It can easily transition to VH, a butterfly drop, T-push or slide toward the top of the crease, or a backside push. Upon clearing the post on one side of the net, goalies can also easily power slide and transition to reverse VH on the far-side post.

The key is that different save selection options exist at the corner of the crease with goalpost integration for low poor angle shots. The best tactical scenarios for which each technique is best suited will most certainly continue to evolve through success and failure but for some goalies OL is here to stay.


  1. Sensei

    I think the Overlap has been around forever but we just didn’t call it anything. It is just a natural move depending on where the goalie is at the moment. When a goalie backs up too far, the post will prevent him from doing a full butterfly so he is forced to do a 1-knee-down (or variation), which essentially is a half butterfly. If the goalie is out cutting the angle (challenging the shooter) then his skate will be outside the post, thus he is able to do a full butterfly.

    When I teach young goalies I avoid teaching them unnatural positions or technical terms which they don’t understand. I try to keep it simple and intuitive. I just say “if the post is in your way do a half butterfly (i.e. 1-knee down, etc.), if not, do a full butterfly”. The main point I tell them is to keep a tight upper body and if necessary to lean to help seal the post. If a shooter comes in on a tight angle all they have to do is come out a bit (or not move in too far) to cover the angle like any shot.

    If the player starts from behind the goal line and walks out while the goalie is hugging the post, then a very close shot may require a VH or other variation because there will not be time to move the skate outside the post. But if there is time (i.e. shooter walks out from the corner), then the goalie simply moves out like any shot to do the full butterfly – which you are calling a new technique, the Overlap.

    I think older goalies who have been rigorously taught the VH and its variations probably have forgotten that in some cases of tight angles all they have to do is what they likely first learned as youngsters – to come out and challenge the shooter.

  2. paul szabo

    I agree with Sensei. when I worked at Goalies World Magazine, I think I still recall the analysis of Craig Anderson from several years ago, where instead of using a VH he just steps outside his goalpost on low angle shots or drives. I think there are some other circumstances where goalies make the error of pushing flush up to the post, where they could perhaps stay outside and in front of the post. One example would be on breakaways where the goalie slides with the deke and butts against the post with a skate, instead of sliding in front of the post to close the short side gap

  3. anonymous

    Tim Thomas 2011

  4. Joe

    Why not snug up against the post vertically? I can see where a situation can be conjured up where we’d want our foot outside the post and I agree that every thing should be in the tool box but this technique/move/save/position seems to have limited application. With goalers having hip issues so young these days, do we really want to put our knees and ankles at risk also? Suppose the shooter doesnt shoot from the bad angle and either crashes the net or makes a quick pass across. In this position, the goaler’s leg is likely to get wrapped around the post. In a scramble with traffic, it is going to hard to get the foot clear of the post. Not trying to cause a disagreeable argument; just giving my two cents.

  5. Kevin Woodley

    I understand pointing out others have used it, but article already makes it clear it has been/is used at highest level, so lets not lose sight of its purpose guys — adding it as a possible save selection that can be taught. Because despite seeing it used in NHL, I haven’t often seen it taught as an option, if at all.
    Like most things here at InGoal, we want to give goalies options, tools new or old that they can try out and decide for themselves whether or not to put it in their toolbox full time — and if so, when. I believe this tries to take a closer look at why it can work for those that use it, and let others see if it can work for them.

    As for limited application, think VH and reverse are similar, right? a specific set of sharp-angle save circumstances that tend to be trick for some. this simply breaks down another option to consider.

    not sure what it means anatomically, but know goalies who’ve torn ACL on collisions with skate stuck on post, so problematic anyway, and less hip/knee stress than the lean into a post, no?

    think it’s all good discussion points as we flush it out, but please remain respectful to the work that went into producing this and remember it’s about presenting options, not declaring rights or wrongs

    thanks guys

  6. Steve McKichan

    On poor angle shots we have been taught since Howie meeker days to square to the shooter and don’t get locked back into a post hug position.

    The only time your foot goes inside the post is when the puck is behind the net.

    I can show photos from Jacques Plante’s book, hockey Canada goalie manuals from 1974 showing this.

    There is no need for a trendy name for something that has been done for the last 50 years.

    • Steve McKichan

      “Behind goal line correcting instead of simply behind net for clarity.

  7. Varian Kirst

    I will tell you why i am not a big fan of this technique.
    1.You are covering part of the net that does NOT NEED TO BE COVERED (the outside)
    2. You are having to make a longer push and cover more ground on lateral plays. We all know what a 1/2 an inch is in goaltending
    3. You have nothing to push off (or anchor yourself) when in a butterfly (i.e. the post) you must push in a backside push which takes that SPLIT SECOND LONGER!!!! … and we know what a split second is in goaltending.
    4. You can get caught up on the post if the player goes from the bad angle around the back of the net.

    On the dead arm VH picture above there is a lot of the goalie covering the outside of the net. from this bad angle there should be very little net showing on the blocker side. Also the picture should be taken from the puck angle (on the ice) the picture seems to be taken from knee or hip height. Taking the picture from the puck angle will give you the true angle and true holes that are open.

    Where it is stated that the VH is riddled with holes. I have to disagree here, the VH is a compact position when done correct and when done at the proper time (when the shot is taken from a bad angle) it is in the transition from VH to other positions that the holes become apparent… that is where the reverse VH has eliminated some of these problems. Also it states the VH is an anatomically and uncomfortable position. Well so is the butterfly and a lot of other goalie positions… you must train your body to become comfortable with these positions.

    With the wide stance that is shown in the video you are just giving the shooter more 5-hole…and lets face it a 5-hole goal from a bad angle is a bad goal in everyones book… so why give them more room to shoot at. an aggressive wide stance should be for slot shots.. a narrower stance as the play gets closer to the goal line.

    I know Niemi and Tim Thomas had success with such techniques but lets face facts these are 2 exceptional goalies with remarkable lateral movement. In todays fast paced game where more and more plays are going lateral the goalie needs every inch. overlapping or covering a part of the net you don’t need to cover makes you smaller through double coverage and you have more area to cover on lateral plays. I am of the belief that a tighter (or narrower) stance and tighter (or narrower) butterfly and the VH is adequate on bad angle shots.
    On wraparounds or east west plays below the goal line Reverse VH or just a good old shuffle to stay on your feet will do.
    On flatline cross crease plays (bad angle to bad angle pass) a deep flex position where you seal the post and get your back leg those extra inches over to anticipate a cross crease play will leave you making those incredible Kipper saves 🙂

    The 1 thing i will agree and i am not sure it is mentioned is you should not get beat short side using the OL… but if you are getting beat short side from a bad angle (assuming you are set) then you need to review your angles.

    Thanks InGoal for the analysis i love to hear new techniques and new ideas…but this one i think i will leave out.
    Varian Kirst
    CGGC Head Coach

    P.S. i would love to hear you comments 🙂

  8. paul szabo

    If this adds to the discussion: look at Price at 4:08 seconds into the highlights. Tavares goes wide on the D and drives to the net from a poor angle. Price has his foot outside the post, stays square and drops to the butterfly for what looks like an easy save. No VH in sight…,2,255&navid=sb:highlights

  9. Tomas Hertz, MD, BA

    1. There is an undeniable element of double coverage but it is not significant either with respect to the pad or glove positioning, whether you are on the trapper or blocker side. Yes, “double coverage” equal redundancy which is not a good thing when try to maximize net coverage!
    If you come to believe in the merit of this technique, then that degree of net coverage redundancy may be acceptable. This is more so true if you believe that OL has greater liberty of movement that VH and can do a better job of closing the aforementioned vertical seam discussed in the article. If you do not believe in this potential, then no … you will not believe in OL.
    2.I most certainly agree that every inch and every second is critical in the fast-paced modern game. The skate however overlaps just outside the post and not great distances from said post. For shots coming for the area outlined in the diagram there is never any need to be challenging shooters anyway because the shooting angle is inherently so poor. A goaltender being overly aggressive with depth for these poor angles will likely lose the battle on a cross-crease pass in OL but no one plays that kind of depth from those angles inherently. AS I wrote in a previous article, there is a great role for an active stick for cross-crease passes which is something I don’t see often from today’s goaltenders. I do not think any significant amount of time will be added with the push to the weak side from OL but it most certainly will if the goaltender choses an OL position further from the post. As noted, “clearing the post” is a process to be refined and with time can be executed with great efficiency. If the goaltender can’t execute the manoeuvre quickly, or is not confident, you will not use or teach OL.
    3.You have nothing to push off since the anchor of the post has been eliminated – correct! I like the post as an anchor but I do not inherently believe that a mature goaltender does not have the ability to push with sufficient force to get to the far side post if the overlap is just outside the post as demonstrated by Kevin Bailey.
    4.You could get caught with a player changing from low walk-out to wrap-around attempt but this gets back to the post-clearing process. If you are in OL position and there is no lane to the front of the net, the attacking player would have to start earlier on a line towards the back of the net. The goaltender may very well anticipate this altered course. At that point, if still standing, the goal merely shifts back to a traditional post skate position , and slides into reverse VH on the opposite side or shuffles like old school. If impatient and having dropped early, the clearing sequence demonstrated by Bailey becomes necessary.
    5.In retrospect the dead arm OKD photo is not the best since the arm is not closing the seam as it is in the Carey Price article. In our photo the arm is redundant outside the post which doesn’t add to the natural tendency to lean off the post in traditional VH. Yes, a comparative photo from the puck’s perspective would have benefited the article. Regardless, I don’t think such a photo would have shown a lot of available room which, I believe, is your point with respect to VH positioning?
    6.I do not think we are that far apart on the presence or absence of holes with VH; however, when you take a look at a static photo such as the one provided of a perfect VH, the technique is genius and has well thought out advantages. I specifically wrote however that when moving around chaotically, insufficient time OFTEN results in not being able to execute a perfect VH and resultant holes are the by product!
    7.We will agree to disagree on what is a natural or unnatural anatomical position. In the purest sense nothing in goaltending is natural but as you suggest must be taught and learned. From an evolutionary perspective, we are designed to run from predators and not damage out bodies in the manner consistent with competitive sports. For goaltenders of tall stature, it is my sincere belief that it is not easy to crouch down under the crossbar instantaneously while making certain my pads are in a certain plane, stick here and gloves there and everything aligned perfectly. I truly believe those requirements of a “solid” VH are eliminated by just having the skate marginally on the outside of the post. If you do not believe in this consideration, you will not teach OL or add it to your toolbox!
    8.A wider lower (pre-drop) stance is NOT inherent to OL. This is the way Taylor likes to play, in general. The Rollheiser stance is considerably more upright and narrow which is a personal preference element. The wider stance may say “shoot at my 5-hole” and if you play that way then you better have a really quick drop. To me, it usually says ” I am a drop early goaltender , so wait me out and shoot high” but how the shooter interprets the stance is what matters. Based on the variations in stance between Rollheiser and Taylor for this technique, there is ultimately not set stance (although trends certainly exist) for different puck locations.
    9.I like reverse VH for wrap-arounds although it seems just like standard paddle down technique with an extended leg. I am however greatly bothered by goaltenders who feel the need to habitually drop to reverse VH when there D-man circles around the net to pick up the puck for a break-out!!!! They seem to stay in this position far too long when there is no inherent threat of a goal (although I acknowledge Steve Smith and Chris Phillip errors!) I like the old stand-up style and shuffling post-to-post and I think you can get there often on your feet. Goaltenders chose not to do it that way today.
    10.You can absolutely get burned with OL on lateral cross-crease plays but hence the criterion of hopefully have a defenseman with net-side positioning to eliminate that passing lane. I always thought the best feature of VH was sealing the ice with the horizontal pad for a cross-crease pass which is always a beautiful save but you can get burned with VH as well.

    In the end, take it or leave it. You chose to leave it! I chose to consider further. Thank you!

  10. Warren Shapiro

    Is that what the broadcasters say: “Great Save By The Goaltender…….” I enjoy watching those saves on the Television. Their so Kool. Sorry fans I’m a Goaltender in Floor Hockey not Ice Hockey. But I take note of most Goaltenders.

  11. raditzzzz

    im late to the game on this, and while i dont have the credentials of McKichan or Cooper, if we are going to discuss options i would like to put one forth that always seems to go unnoticed: the stand up save. i agree that overlapping is an excellent option for bad angle situations, and we have noted the pros and cons. but honestly, on truly poor angle shots, the stand up will reduce the possibility of a goal to zero. and before you simply dismiss this as old fashioned and want to jump to conclusions about rebounds (and lets face it, who is simply going to stay in a butterfly and not attempt to get their pad on a shot far side in the overlap position, creating rebounds as well) or lack of being able to move laterally, we aren’t talking about an unready, simply taking space standing straight up save. we are talking about a butt down, knees bent, legs ready stand up stance (see Richter, Mike). if you want to read a full analysis of this save for this exact scenario, go here, give it a chance and weigh things out for yourself:

    not having the resources to test out the efficacy of this in a high level goaltenders repertoire, i think it would be awesome to see some coaches test it with their goaltenders. remember, if brodeur can do it, so can you!

    • Tomas Hertz, MD, BA

      I enjoyed your article and definitely believe there is a place for the traditional stand up save. In Fact, I saw Bernier make one like this just a few days ago. I like the Maclean-type style! I think the main difference between this and OL is the fact you will almost invariably generate a rebound from this more traditional save selection technique. With OL you can drop to the butterfly and cradle the puck so that no rebound is generated. Again, the margin of error between the pads being squeezed together or the puck squeezing through is a small one. Us older guys have all squeezed a puck between the pads without a rebound but its a dangerous play. VH can also be employed without generating a rebound but I think OL would have the best chance of puck retention (or reverse VH). I always compared this technique (stand up) to being a hinge door attached to the post. Swing the door in or out depending on where the puck is and off-the-puck threats.

      • raditzzzz

        first, let me say that i am honored you took the time to read my post, and the arm chair article that i wrote. the fact that you read it and gave it some thought just made my day.

        in response, i am in complete agreement with your analysis of using the overlap on bad angle shots. i also agree with your assertions on its strengths in this situation. im a chicago fan, and i watched niemi rely on the overlap heavily. if i were to free hand what i think the approach should be, it would sound like this:

        for plays where there is imminent danger (a forward has gotten behind your defenseman along the boards in a 1on1 situation, or even on a 2on1 where the forward with the puck is coming in from close to the boards) i think the overlap is optimal. you address the puck well, can absorb shots and can react naturally with the butterfly without interference from the post.

        for plays where your defenseman is maintaining good positioning and forcing the shooter against or very close to the boards in the area beyond the circles and below the hash marks, a stand up position makes sense. i think it helps mitigate some of the drawbacks of the overlap (over committing with liability to the far post), and eliminates the issues of taking an unprepared stance if the goalie assumes that a shot is not going to come off. in 9 out of 10 situations, they would probably be right. but for the odd situation it does get through, you are 100% able to stop the shot.

        if the puck travels behind the red line, you are able to naturally shift to the VH from this position. i just am not sure why this isn’t a routine part of goalie movement drills, and why this situation gets very little attention overall. we simply “expect” goalies to make this save without giving them adequate preparation for it. i mean, the scenario i outlined is a realllllly bad angle shot. but if you look at the pictures i posted at the way goalies are positioning themselves when the puck is in this area, it is difficult to ignore that they are not preparing themselves optimally for a save.

  12. Tomas Hertz, MD, BA

    For every coach you will get a different opinion as to what he likes to teach. No one gets better listening to themselves talk ! Therefore, the guys who wont entertain other possibilities are the real clowns in this circus!
    Therefore , our exchange makes us better but it doesn’t mean we will agree on everything.
    I don’t agree with you that Kumper really need to be turned more towards the corner assuming that is where the play is ? My idea is don’t over commit by turning too much to the side. He keeps a certain angle he likes based on comfort and looking off the puck for weak-side threats. All he has to do is keep his head-on-a-swivel and adjust as needed. If there is no imminent threat of a shot, then no need to turn outward.
    If he turns out too much on the “hinge” he may be too rigid and not recover to the weak side if a cross crease pass gets through.
    I like the stand up from time to time in the Drury photo since it is more time consuming to get into VH than just blocking the puck standing up ( which is what Bernier did) or off the rush when a net drive becomes a sharp angle shot ( but he better not have a lane to the front of the net).
    I think Bernier improvised but there would not have been time to get into VH in the scenario I saw. He just made one long shuffle and squeezed the pads together, That is a scenario where you may chose OL or stand up but not VH?
    As always, just more options from which to chose but I think the strength as a coach lies in the ability to say ” I know who someone who teaches this, so we can try it if you like and you decide”. Anyway, that’s my approach.
    There is also some coach Cooper refers to as a hybrid VH which I really like. You don’t get locked into anything early. Maybe I will write about it . Take care !

  13. Brad

    It is worth mentioning that the article isn’t stating that the OL is the one end all be all technique, it’s just a really good option. The .35 sec video of Taylor is a great example. In that clip, he used the OL, reverse VH, butterfly lean and the traditional skate on the post during that drill.

    I think the two pictures of Chris Clarke from Queens in this article says it all in regards to this technique. The pictures I am referring to are: 1- the butteryfly in the OL position and 2- the VH position in comparison directly below it. I want to talk about coverage, potential for rebounds and control of those rebounds, and movement.

    Pic 1 – OL – butterfly

    Yes, you have that slight double coverage issue of the pad and glove(blocker or trapper) but that’s minor. In this picture he looks relaxed, he looks anatomically and technically comfortable and sound, closed five-hole, stick, gloves and tall upright body. Exactly what we want to see from a butterfly. This allows him in the OL position to have optimal coverage of the net in the most relaxed body position while still being able to move freely how ever the goalie wishes to move. This could not be achieved from the traditional skate on the post position ( VH, reverse VH or lean). As a result he has no holes on the short side post. No glove side bar-down option( because he is able remain tall), no seams to try and awkwardly cover against the post, and very little options far side to go post and in, high or low because the pad from the butterfly is covering low where the goalie can play a natural butterfly movement that angles the rebounds in any direction he chooses. Also anything high, he has the structural balance to play a normal straight up blocker save that again will allow the goalie to play a potential rebound where ever he may choose. Again rebounds from this position become easy to control. Anything in the midsection the goalie can control and swallow up, anything low short side off the pad is going into the corner, anything high is going into the glove or off the back of the net, anything far side can be more easily handled as previously mentioned. All of this can be done while maintaining good positioning and readiness for subsequent movements. Whether to stand up, slide across, or transition to VH, reverse VH etc etc you name it, it can all be achieved from the butterfly position.

    Pic 2 – VH

    Now in comparison to VH of the second photo, yes, now there is no double coverage “great” but now he is cramped up against the post awkwardly trying to cover all the holes or seams against the post. In my personal experience when in the VH position, I feel awkward, off balance, and my concentration is more so on covering the seams and holes. The VH puts me in a great anchored position against the post that will allow me to push across the crease quickly but to me the benefits end there. Back to the picture though, now I am looking at coverage. He has that vertical seam covered, glove covering the top corner which does seal up the short side but my concerns are far side and for potential rebounds. Far side the shooter has the post and in option high and low, the goalie has a blocker dead arm thing going on that may make it hard to make and control a shot blocker side. The easiest thing to do on those far side shots is to slide off the post and take it on the shoulder, but if you anticipate or leave early you may have a short side goal to fish out of the net. Also some goalies choose a VH with the paddle down. This position will drop the shoulder and give the shooter even more to shoot at on the far side. In my opinion all of this can be eliminated by the OL butterfly. Now lets look at rebound potential, the first two things I see from the VH is that anything short side at the post whether off the Vertical pad or glove is going right back to the shooter for the most part. In terms of the glove anything around the cuff or fingers is going to drop right in front of the goalie or go back out to the shooter, unless the shot goes right into the pocket but either way not a good spot for a rebound. If a shot goes to the midsection it isn’s as easy to swallow from that position ( in comparison to full butterfly). Now looking at the horizontal pad, if I was a shooter I would be looking to bank my shot off the pad to my crashing winger back door. How many times have we been burned on that play?

    I just comes down to the right situation, I love the VH for those close situations where a forward is trying to beat a d man and cut to the net. It allows me to cover the post, the 5 hole, and bottom of the net while giving me an anchor in case I need to follow him across the crease. Or when someone is coming from the corner either to try and jam it or cut across the crease, or to better cover the bottom of the net when that pass goes cross crease to someone back door.
    But when it comes to those shots from between the goal line and the bottom of the circle or when I need to keep my options open, the OL seems like a great alternative to pull from my bag of tricks. The OL looks to me like it gives a goalie a better option when it comes to covering the short side post. Instead of wedging yourself against the post you can take that half a step out and play in a more natural free position that will still allow you to have free range of movement, whether to drop to a butterfly, move cross crease, etc etc.

    Thanks for the option.


  14. Gavin

    Another small variation on the short angle coverage options mentioned in this article is to drop the glove down to cover the 5-hole. I’ve seen Lundqvist & Niemi use this a few times when covering short angle shots from their blocker side recently. Not something I’ve used myself but curious what others on here might think about it.

  15. Steve N

    Relative to other goalies in his league, my son’s work on the post is pretty much “by the book” when it comes to a VH. He used to drop his knee too early, but now he keeps it about 8 inches off the ice so he can drop it to react to a shot, or he can keep it off the ice for a better push across.

    I like the VH because of the post seal and the fact that you don’t need to worry about the short side at all (or barely at all). As long as you are patient and don’t leave the post too soon, you can pretty much focus on a shot to the far side, pass or walk across. Eliminating options on the short side (theoretically) are a key benefit in my view. The OL doesn’t seem to have this benefit.

    Here is the main three problems with the VH as I see it:
    1) if you are strong on the post, the push across can be tough. Your skate angle, horizontal pad angle, etc. make this a tough move, particularly if you are crowded by the vertical pad
    2) if the shot comes in and hits the vertical pad, or worse the stick, good luck seeing the rebound. Now the puck is 3 inches off the front of your pad/stick and your head is behind your vertical pad. My son usually panics in this situation, scrambles and opens up about 6 holes as he tries to find the puck – occasionally in the back of the net because it was poked in during his flurried attempt to find the thing just in front of him.
    3) and this is my biggest concern with the VH: when the puck hits your torso, it has a very high chance of dropping in the net as it rolls down your chest protector. Sure, perhaps his body could be more upright and square, but then he has no chance of pushing across from a VH. Any guidance on better technique here would be appreciated.

    All 3 of these issues could be addressed by the OL, though the push across might not be optimal out of an OL. I guess you could simply rotate and shuffle or butterfly slide depending on the depth of the attacker.

    The one thing I don’t like about the OL is the fact that the post isn’t sealed and it would probably be in your head that a short-side option exists.

    To me, the reverse VH makes sense on wrap arounds but not on shots from far out, particularly for goalies under 6 feet tall. Reverse VH certainly deals with the visibility issue and the problem with the puck rolling down the torso – but only if your body is completely upright.

    I’m not sure what to advise my son. He has two goalie coaches – both ex-NHLers and, interestingly, neither of them work on any of these techniques. The only advice given so far is to avoid dropping the horizontal leg too soon in the VH, which has helped with his lateral movement. At my son’s level the amount of play coming off the boards and from behind the net is through the roof. And speaking of roof, these kids can roof the puck from two feet out or go laterally through the crease from a walkout with more finesse than you would expect. All of this underlines the need for very solid technique with these save selections. I’m still feeling VH is best, but it certainly has its flaws.

  16. Brock

    I personally don’t like the OL position. Here’s why.
    When going into this position, you cover the outside of the net. You cannot afford to do that as a goalie. You need to cover as much net as possible. And when there happens to be a pass back door it takes an extra split second to get there. Which often results in a goal. But there is another way to cover the net whithout using the vh it is very simple ad effective. This technique states that if the puck is between the face off dot and the bottom of the circle the goalie should be on his post (standing up) square to the shooter. If the puck is below the bottom of the circle then the goaltender should be at a thirty degree angle on his post. When you use these rules you can get to passes quicker and more effectively. You also don’t have to worry about double coverage either. If the player shoots low there are two options. You can drop into a vh position to stop the incoming low shot. You can even drop into the butterfly on your post as well. However the vh is faster.

    • paul szabo

      If I understand correctly, in both cases you mention the goalie needs to be at the post with his knees together i.e. like Jacques Plante? Such a technique may avoid covering a space outside the goal. However, it has the disadvantnage of being a poor position to develop power from for a lateral move or push. If a goalie is in the basic stance (the modern variety) with a foot at the post, there is a gap that cannot be eliminated. In my opinion this is a danger that can be eliminated by the OL

      • Brock

        No, you don’t need to put your knees together. Your legs are separated and your back leg is at a thirty degree angle. As I mentioned above, if the puck is between the face off dot and the bottom of the circle you are on your post square to the shooter with your legs separated. If the puck is below the bottom of the circle than you should be at the thirty degree angle.