No Red Lights: Hockey: Up the river without a paddle - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Up the river without a paddle

Anyone, who has had me as a goalie coach, will know that the paddle down is one of my biggest pet-peeves. It could possibly be the most overly and improperly used movement by a goalie. Don't get me wrong; it has its merits, but it is not properly implemented. I will explain myself first and then will attempt (although not whole-heartedly) to outline how the paddle down can become explosive.

Maybe in that last sentence lies the problem... the paddle down move (in general) has never been explosive.  It's the lazy man's move (and I do not care who I offend by saying that... it's true). Let's examine the evidence: the paddle down is most often used when there is a scramble in front. The goalie decides to use the paddle down for the following reasons:

a) the goalie cannot see the puck, and it's easier to see down on the ice;
b) the puck is fairly close to the goalie, thereby limiting the amount of time the goalie has to react to the shot;
c) the goalie plays the percentages as the puck has a greater chance of squeaking by on the ice than by being lifted and finding a hole.

The last point explains why this move is overused. When in doubt, the goalie goes with the sure thing and plays the percentages. While this is all together not a bad thought process, it is the extent that the paddle down is used that makes it the "lazy goalie's" move. Instead of being a last resort move, it has become the primary, go-to move whenever the goalie panics. They are not relying on their reactions and instincts, but more on the forward's inabilities. And this is my fundamental premise -- take control of your game, don't let the game control you! As goaltenders, we must realized and embrace the aspects of the game that we can and cannot control.

You cannot control your coach's opinion of your playing or when that coach is watching you. You cannot control the bounce off the board or that player with huge skates, which amazingly always redirects the puck into your net. And most importantly, you cannot control the refs, the bounce of the puck or the hockey Gods. Despite all this, you can control your reactions and your style! This is why patience is a virtue in goaltending: because it gives you the last move. It puts the control in your court. Either you are fast enough or not.  And those are odds I've always liked.

The paddle down goalie does not rely on this control and their reactions. They instead put their faith in the forward's lack of ability. They bet that the forward cannot a) recognize that the goalie iis giving the top corners and lateral movements up and b) that the forward can not hit those shots. As an atom or mite, the odds are probably in your favor -- but the better skilled forwards are more likely to read your positioning and find the open net.


After all that, please forgive this rant. But I do have a very strong opinion of the paddle down: it should not be used often and in only very limited circumstances, namely when the puck is in tight and when the goalie cannot see the puck. There are small exceptions (you can use a paddle down after the shot has been taken but you cannot see the puck -- this relies on sound cues), but for the majority of times, the paddle is overly and improperly used. In my next post, I will examine the paddle down in more technical terms in order to highlight my reasoning.

Until then,