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Goalie Quote of the Week

A warrior is worthless unless he rises above others and stands strong in the midst of a storm." 

-Yamamoto Tsunetomo


Entries in gaffes (7)


Emery Loses His Stick Discipline

UE Motto: Be a Warrior!!

I came across this goal while watching a full recap of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers series.  I found a large portion of the goals against Emery came from plays that passed in front of him to his right to his left.  Many of these were very good goals that would have been scored against many an NHL tender.  I did notice that Emery, when torquing hard to his trapper side, he had a lot of difficulty keeping control of his stick.  This is not uncommon and the harder and more sudden a goalie has to shift, the greater trouble he's going to have in maintaining his stick discipline.  Stick discipline in this case is where the goalie keeps the stick on the ice, usually protecting his five-hole.

Now not to over-criticize, as most of these plays were bing-bang plays that moved the puck 40-50 feet east to west.  However, the forth goal in the third game was a lot less excusable.  Firstly, the pass was not to the farside so much as to a streaking player moving right up the middle.  Emery had very little lateral movement required here.  Secondly, the timing of the goal was especially harsh as it was the nail in the coffin for game 3.

I wanted to draw attention to this, not so much as to belittle Emery, but to highlight this issue with my young goalies.  Spring hockey has allowed me to work with a bunch of new netminders from my usual crop, so they are getting a lot of "flack" from me on their lack of stick discipline during lateral slides, especially to their trapper side.  But at least with Emery's example, they are in good company and it goes to show everyone, that even the pros need to work on the basics.  Banger Maxim #17:  Some things are simple to understand but they are not easy to execute.


I think it can be easily said that Ray Emery has had a tumultous career.  He has had some inspirational events in his career, as well, that I think could be motivational fodder for any aspiring goaltender.  Take a read of his Wikipedia bio.


NHL Playoffs: Howard Picks an Odd Time To Reverse VH

I came across this goal after watching some highlights this morning.  I don't know how I missed it when it first happened.  Here we have an example of a great goalie making a very odd choice and an elite shooter exposes the 8 inches above Howard's shoulder from a bad angle.

As another goalie coach said to me upon discussing this, "Jimmy was just lazy."   Take a look for yourselves, as Howard uses a post wrap technique to play a bad angle shot.




NHL Playoffs: Niemi is slow to close the window and it costs him a S.O.


It is tough to criticize Antti Niemi's play during this play-off season.  He is quickly showing that he is an elite NHL goalie and the Sharks made quite a steal to get him.  His game performance last night against the Stanley Cup champs has been close to equal of Jonathan Quick who has also ramped it to a new notch come post-season.

But even the best goalies make mistakes that we can all learn from and Niemi gets burnt being a little lax driving back to his post after the puck deflects to the nearside corner and below the goal line.  The gap between his body and the post is open too long and the daylight is spilling through.  This gives the LA Kings player, Dustin Brown, a great opportunity to score a "cheap" goal by bouncing it off or through Niemi.  For an attacking forward who is near or below the goal line, throwing the puck near the goalie and through the blue paint is a very low risk, potentially high yielding play.  As I ask my goalies rhetorically, "why wouldn't a player try that play?  What is the worse that could happen, other than a turnover very deep in the defending team's zone."

To that end, goalies should be very quick to seal that body-post gap whenever the puck gets low.  There is no benefit to the goalie to watch and wait to see what will develop before going to the post.  In practice and in drills, many goalies think their job is finished when they make the great controlled save and redirect a potential rebound into the corner.  There is no sense of urgency to get back to the post to track the puck into the corner, and that lackadaisical attitude will cost goals, BAD goals in a game.  Move to that post as quickly as if it was a dangerous rebound.  Then lock up that post before that puck even hits the ground or the stick of the opposition player and then plan your next move from there.

Technically there was problems, as Niemi decides to drive his skate into the post for his reverse-VH.  This causes him to delay sealing the post tight and cracks of daylight emerge for a puck to squeak through.  The reverse-VH seems to be the pitstop choice for some goalies who want to take a passive pose and see what they should do next and Niemi's skate to the post not only causes gaps, it gives a nice fat target for someone to hit from below the goal line.  It may have been the lazy move with lazy execution here that cost Niemi his shutout.


NHL Playoffs: Fleury of Rumours


The playoffs continue to entertain and last night's games were no exception.  Part of the fun of the playoffs is the extended play against a conference rival creates both major drama on and off the ice.

The hottest story right now is the state of goaltending affairs in Pittsburgh and their main backender, MA Fleury.  Compounded by Fluery's meltdown against the Flyers in last year's playoff, he has provided major speculation about near (and long term) future plans of goaltending in the Steel City. 

On the near term, many are asking whether the Pittsburgh's coaching staff should be opting to use Vokoun for Game 5 or do the dance with the partner that brought ya?  On the longer term, fans and pundits wonder whether Fleury is the right goalie for the team and whether he can deliver the goods from this point on and into future seasons.  It seems harsh, especially since these discussions only really flare up this quickly when it comes to goaltenders and not other positions or players.  The chain is short, goalies.

Some excellent points of advice have been brought up and many have remarked that Fleury is looking like the Fleury of (really) old.  This Fleury is the one prior to winning the Stanley Cup.  This is the one that was over-sliding, over-committing, and over-playing most of his junior, AHL, and rookie years in the NHL.  It has all started to come back and Fleury's only solution seems to be more of the same in a higher degree of desperation.  Most of the general advice comes along from the idea getting back to basics that Brent Johnson gave Fleury last year.

The theory that I have about Fluery is that he is not able to key in veteran patience and coolness.  His low panic threshold may be compounded when he is playing on the side that is expected to win.  Fleury is an underdog goalie who can excel when he can just forget about the score, forget about the consequences of losing, forget about team defensive systems and just let it all hang out and use his amazing natural abilities.  Just because your engine is a 454, it doesn't mean you have to redline it when parking in Walmart.  His playoff and personal success came when his upstart and young team were battling the near-dynastic Red Wings.  Now that he sits in the dynastic throne, he has a real difficult time adjusting and letting the game come to him.

The pressure is building and now the real test for Fleury begins.





NHL Playoffs: Holtby gets caught in between a butterfly and reverse-VH


I've been having some great discussions with other other goalie coaches about the reverse-VH and dead-angle goals and I'm learning some very interesting things.  I hope to be able to post the discussions on the blog for those of you who don't tweet pending permission from the other participants.

Anyways, I found this interesting play from last night's game of the Caps vs Ranger.  Holtby, who is one of my favourite new Canuckistan goalies, plays this net drive a little oddly and gets burnt with his reverse-VH.  The other issue is the quick plant of his left skate on the post during the retreat that basically forces him to either butterfly or reverse-VH off the shot line.  Essentially, he ends up protecting the far post rather than the center of the net with this position.  This play summarizes the two different twitter threads with two different groups of coaches.  In my mind, there has to be a point where the goalie has to square his hips, center on the shot-line and play the shot and let his teammates worry about the other options.  Did Holtby make the mistake of over-reading the play?

Here Holtby looks like a fill-in goalie during a pick-up game with strangers.