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The 2012 Stanley Cup Classroom

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The 2012 Stanley Cup Classroom

By Fred Quistgard

Although I am a fan like everyone else at Stanley Cup time (unfortunately no back to back cup for the Boston Bruins!), I also like to treat the games as a “hockey biology” course and dissect the play of the different goalies. What techniques, strategies and concepts are at the forefront? Am I teaching concepts and skills that are keeping up with a constantly changing game? With that being said, here are some random thoughts about what I saw this year:

Crease Presence Breeds Team Confidence:

Braden Holtby of the Capitals had a great playoff year. (sorry Bruins!) Sure he had some great saves, but I admired the confident, relaxed and unflappable mental approach Holtby displayed. I’m sure his quiet, steady crease presence gave the Caps the confidence to play their game knowing he had their backs. I believe the Kings with Jonathan Quick, the Devils with Marty Brodeur, the Rangers with Henrik Lundstrom all felt the same way. Had any of these goalies fallen apart emotionally under the pressure of the Stanley Cup playoffs, their teams would not have gone as far as they did.

Old School Still Has Its Place:

There are many critics of Marty Brodeur’s old school style of play because he doesn’t employ a steady diet of blocking butterfly slides. The fundamental belief I have always had is that goalies should have a “tool bag” of the types of saves they can use and have the ability to read the plays and apply the correct moves within a matter of seconds. Tim Thomas comes to mind as another goalie who reads plays extremely well. If you over-use diving pokechecks, stacks of the pads and other “old school” techniques or use them incorrectly, they won’t work. However, there are situations and times where a pokecheck or kick save or stack of the pads can be the most effective move. You must keep an open mind and play the type of game that works for you. Whatever your style is (old school, new school or something in between), refine it and adapt to the constantly changing game of hockey so you are not predictable.

Don’t Blindly Copy Goaltending Styles. Understand the Concepts Behind the Success!

Jonathan Quick had an amazing playoff year. His explosive quickness, pad movement and battling skills were a joy to watch. He was asked at various times during the playoffs “Should young goalies copy your style?” He laughingly said “no”. The key to learning from others is to find out why the technique or style of play works. In Quick’s case, he is in excellent condition to play that explosive style. If, for example, you are out of shape and lazy and tried to copy Quick’s style, you will be lit up like the 4th of July. What I took from Quick is that he is very quick at getting to scoring spots first. If he gets there before a shooter settles the puck or has time and space to make a good choice, he can win the battle. If he has a close gap between him and the shooter, the top corners are not as open as the shooter thinks. No matter who your favorite goalie role model is, borrow what could work for your style and discard the rest. Again, your goal is to be the best “you” that you can be, not a recycled copy of someone else.

Catching Glove Skills Ain’t What They Used to Be!

I love teaching catching glove skills especially since goalies of all ages don’t do it that well any more. With the emphasis on blocking skills, goalies have forgotten the art of catching the puck. There were a lot of stoppable high glove shots during the Cup playoffs this year. Even at the high skill level of the NHL, goalies were locking their arms with no turning into the saves. Hands were behind the body instead of ahead. Awkward shoulder rolls away from the puck were prevalent. To me, the glove is the main piece of equipment that allows the goalie some flair and personality. When the goalie has great economy of movement by turning the back shoulder and head in the direction of the catch, has the glove at a forward diagonal from the nose to the thumb and the wrist turned slightly downward so it meets the rising trajectory of the puck, the glove save is a thing of beauty! Although there were a bunch of sloppy glove save goals, there were also some fantastic glove saves like the Flyers goalie against a wide open Penguin in the first round.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training

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