No Red Lights: Hockey: Predictability and Anticipation - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Predictability and Anticipation

In response to comments made on the previous post, I should have been a bit more specific as to what I meant by the predictability of a forward and how understanding this can lead to some show-stopping saves. I believe it is extremely important when making those desperation saves to know where the shooter is looking to shoot. If you know the shooter's psyche and tendencies, you will increase the odds of making that desperation save. I do agree that anticipation is a very important aspect of goaltending, but I should elaborate between the distinction: Anticipation and predictability are two different beasts even though they are similar in nature and are often mistaken for being one in the same.

What I mean by predictability is more of in terms of a forwards' tendencies. There are a few situations -- and very specific situations -- where forwards are always looking to go. Forwards behind the net tend to wrap the puck around the post when the goalie is not at their post. Forwards also tend to shoot the puck on theice when presented with an open net (especially if they are off balance). For example, in the January 13th NHL saves of the week, the forward that sees that the goalie is out of position and that the far side of the net is wide open. The forward will look to stuff the puck around the post and this shot will be on the ice (the forward would have to step out in front of the net to shoot up high). This predictability is what I was referring to in the post. There are many tendencies that forwards have which give the goalie subtle clues as to where they will shoot. Maybe more on this in another post...

As for anticipation and goaltending, I agree: anticipation is a huge component to goaltending. A goalie should always be aware of their surroundings, and it is part of their job to anticipate the shooter. Included in this is knowing the shooters options. So this is where the big distinction between anticipation and predictability lies: anticipation implies that a forward has options; predictability refers to a decision already having been made. A forward coming down the ice has options: they can pass, shoot, skate or throw the puck into open space. A forward in front of an open net has only one option: shoot. But it's the predictability of that shot that makes it easier for a goalie.

If the goalie can cover that little bit of the net, maybe they can make that save. For example, a forward with time and with a good footing will shot for the middle of the net. If the goalie can get their glove out there, maybe they make that save. A forward behind the net will always look to wrap the puck around on their forehand side. And most forwards will shoot on the ice when they are off balance (this is subject to how skilled the forward is).

One important point I stress about this topic is to know the distinction between anticipation and committing too early. More on this in another post. Hope this answers your questions!!