No Red Lights: Hockey: [5/2] NHL Playoff Match Ups - Fleury v. Varlamov Mid-Game Analysis - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

[5/2] NHL Playoff Match Ups - Fleury v. Varlamov Mid-Game Analysis

Fleury (PIT) vs. Varlamov (WAS) [1pm]
After the first period, I am continuing to be impressed by the young Varlamov. Pittsburgh is a much more opportunistic squad than the Rangers' club (sorry Rangers fans, but it's true). The Rangers mostly controlled the puck deep in the zone but rarely got the puck to net. Also, the Rangers had only a few short-handed rushes that resulted in very good scoring chances. Now, he has a worthy opponent that can exploit weaknesses, and I must admit he's doing fabulously. He has composure in net even though Pittsburgh is crashing the net more, and you can bet that the Pens will continue to do so. His composure is allowing him to excel in the best part of his performance so far -- his rebound control.

This is the starkest difference between Varlamov and Fleury. Varlamov has kept the rebounds to one side of the ice and, to the best of his ability and limitations, he has controlled the front of his net, clearing rebounds to the side and intercepting cross-crease passes. Fleury, on the other hand, has not had such a great time of this. The second goal was a clear mental lapse and let-down for Fleury. The only reason forwards throw the puck on net from the corner is to generate a rebound; and Fleury played right into it. Keeping the puck to one-side of the ice and kicking it back to the corner would mean that he would not have had to change his body angle. Because the puck was deflected across the crease, he had to square up to the puck that was now almost 180 degrees in the other direction. Making this kind of adjustment is one of the most technical and athletic moves that a goalie can do. It requires hand-eye coordination, core strength, leg strength, balance and focus (to watch the puck as it moves across and then as it is shot).

I am interested to see how the two goalies will continue with the rest of the game. Will Fleury control his crease and his rebounds? Will Varlamov fall apart under the pressure of the Pens? Either way, it is looking to be a fast-paced, offensive series!