No Red Lights: Hockey: NHL Analysis -- Playing One-Timers In-Tight - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

NHL Analysis -- Playing One-Timers In-Tight

Confessions First. I am utterly disappointed and ashamed to admit that I had watched the a period of hockey (Isles and Lightning) for the first time in many, many weeks. It has been way to long; I know. Blame it on the lack of games on network tv, the lack of options at my gym, or my crazy schedule, I have been MIA from the NHL scene this year, and for that I am sorry. Having confessed my sins of the first half of the season, I vow to follow more as it makes me a more in tuned and observant coach.... which leads me to a gorgeous goal that the Lightning's Lecavalier scored against Roloson. Now, I typically don't like to talk about goals being scored, but this one was pretty amazing (for it's simplicity, accuracy and practically unstoppable nature).

The Goal. As I recall, Stamkos fed a quick, perfectly placed pass from behind the net to Lecavalier, who was standing on the short side, to the left of the goal (pass came from the left and Lecavalier is a lefty). All of these details are important because of the small but extremely difficult angles that must be covered in such a short period of time.  Now, the fact that Lecavalier put the puck top corner, over the far side shoulder, from a full force slapshot and from the bottom of the hash marks does not leave much (if any chance!) to save this shot.  I adore Roloson and thought he looked good in net, so it was a bit disappointing; but there's not much to do on a shot like that. It was as close to a perfect shot as there could be. So if you're faced with such a situation, don't be discouraged! Some shots are just amazing... but that doesn't mean that they are impossible to stop -- just improbable and with little room for error.

Forward Thinking. The only way to stop this type of one-timer is to anticipate what the forward will do before they even get the puck. This way you can be ready (or even be going down) when the shot is taken. From this distance, you will not be able to react quick enough to begin going down after the shot is taken. And I believe the best way to do that is to understand the forward wants to do, and what their coaching tendencies are. Many good forwards will recognize two things: a) that they are in great shooting position (in the red zone, where the first and almost always option is to shoot), and b) that they will not have a lot of time. The first reason should be intuitive... a forward will shoot when they are close, but what is stopping the forward from not collecting the pass and making a move around the goalie?

It's About Time. The forward must make a decision about how much time they have until a defenseman is on them, and how much time until the goalie gets into position. If there are no defensemen in sight, the forward has more options. This is bad news for the goalie, but not to say that they are on their own! A goalie must always believe that they can control their destiny through their actions... not just because it's what keeps goalies striving to make those impossible saves but also because it keeps them honest and responsible (and not blaming his team! It is your job to deal with what is thrown at you!). Even if the goalies does not have defensive pressure on the shooter, the goalie is not out of options. The goalie can still control the time it takes to get into position.

Get There Quickly. If the goalie is slow to arrive, the forward's best option will be to shoot as fast as possible. If the goalie anticipates the pass and arrives before the shooter receives the pass, the forward will have to rethink their first option (shooting). This means the forward will have to aim for a more difficult shot, where they could shoot wide, or they may try and make a move around the goalie. This opens up the opportunity for more errors and increases the goalie's odds of making a save (or at least preventing a goal).

As you can see, in the few seconds it took for this play to unfold, there are many decisions that are weighed by both the goalie and the forward. These are decisions which can be trained by muscle memory through practice and analysis. Recant in practice what split decisions you are making during drills to understand and refine your play. The follow up article to this post will talk about the small body angles and technical skating that is needed to give you the best body position to make such an impossible save.