Goaltending 101…

I was a goalie for one game in Tom Thumb. I didn’t like it all. I spent most of the game skating in circles around the net because I was bored. Every kid got to be a goalie for one game, and if you liked it you could play again. I never did.

I did lace them up a few times in our spirited road hockey games on Apache Crescent in Leduc, but after taking a frozen tennis ball in the junk when I was eleven, I never tried goal again. Kids like Darren White were much better in goal than I was and combined with the tennis ball incident, my days of putting on the pads officially ended when I was eleven.

I prefer offense. I’ve always appreciated goal scorers much more than goalies, plus I understand the forward position much better. However, in today’s NHL goaltending is crucial for a team’s success, so in order to learn the position more I reached out to a guy who understands the position.

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Today, we break down the Flames’ game winning goal from this past Saturday night.

I’m sure you witnessed the goal, but if not watch the above video.

Cam Talbot has to stop that shot. He admitted it after the game, but I wanted to find out what goalies are thinking on shots like that.

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Kevin Woodley plays goal. He works with NHL goalies. He writes at In Goal Magazine and for NHL.com. I convinced him to have a weekly slot on my show, Crease Lightning, Mondays at 3 p.m., where we talk about goaltending and/or specific NHL goalies.

This past week we discussed the new goalie interference rule, and Kevin was adamant it will become more of an issue and we’ll see more goals called back instead of goals being added. We also dissected the Talbot goal and the Flyers goalies. You can listen to the entire interview here.

Here is Woodley’s response to the Frolik game winning goal.

“Man, dead angle shots really suck
for us goalies. I hate to say it, but I think if other teams realized how much of
a bugaboo and how much of a problem it is, right up to the NHL level, they
would try more shots from those dead angles.

“I mean we’ve seen new techniques evolve
over the past decade specifically to deal with pucks down around the goal line.
The first one was what we called VH, or vertical horizontal, and that’s if you can
picture the [Cam] Talbot goal, that’s what you utilize there. You take the lead
pad and you stack it vertically against the post and you drop the back pad
horizontally against the goal line. The idea there is you are able to push off,
to maintain that skate edge against the post and you can push off if the play
goes to a backdoor pass, or if the player (in the corner) drives from a sharp
angle and brings it out in front of the crease.

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“Then a few years ago we saw Jonathan Quick
have a lot of success with reverse VH, where that lead pad drops to the ice, and
the back pad is up and you’d use the skate edge to push your shoulder into the post. And now in the last year we’ve seen players from dead angles
and sharp angles exploit that (reverse VH) by getting the spot right above the goalies ear
because unless you’re six foot seven, you’re not covering right up to the post
in that position.

“So, first off, I’m not excusing that goal.
It’s a bad goal and Talbot owned it, but sharp angle shots give goalies fits. You
watch a goalie before and after practice when he’s working with his
goalie coach, you watch how much time they spend working on plays on and off of
the post, the ability to feel the post and then get into it and get off of it seamlessly
has become a major part of the game and yet we still have goals like that that
go in. It would be interesting, I haven’t obviously had a chance to talk to Cam,
but my curiosity would be to ask him how he would do it differently next

“Typically the VH play, where that lead pad
is stacked, is used for attacks from above the goal line and reverse VH is used
for attacks below the goal line. That said there has been a couple of other
situations for him this year where he’s gotten caught going into reverse VH,
dropping on a sharp angle threat and they keep going down to one side. I’m
thinking of the [Alex] Galchenyuk goal against Montreal — he’s laying into that
post expecting a dead angle shot and the puck goes right through the crease to
the back door and he’s going one way so he’s not able to push across because of
the other one.

“One thing that we’re seeing evolve is
goalies trying to hold their skates more, commit less to these sharp angle
techniques that have evolved over the past few years and like you said, just
try to play it more patiently. But sure enough, when you try to stay on your
skates, that will be the first time somebody shoves it in. It doesn’t look any
better if that guy, especially if it was above the goal line, throws it at the
net, it goes between your stick and you pad and hits the back skate and goes in.

“The one thing that I don’t like about the
technique he used, when you do use VH, is I saw him have the elbow around the
post and try to pull that heel tight, he didn’t get it. The lead skate was kind
of angled out so he didn’t get the pad flush and that cost him there. It’s a
position that’s very quote unquote, blocky.

“Once you get into that one, the one that he used, you really do lose your hand,
it’s a pure block. Executed properly, nothing goes in from that angle.
Obviously the execution wasn’t great, but I wonder if he could do it over again
if he might have chosen another one or like you said, had been a little more
patient, maintained the ability to use his hands, not locked himself up in that
block and just have the ability to throw that blocker down and steer that one
into a corner without committing to any type of move towards the ice”

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Obviously Talbot needs to make that save, but it was great learning about the specific techniques goalies use on those shots, and how shooters are already adapting to them.

We will break down other goaltending techniques and strategies throughout the season.

If you have a question about goalies email it to me [email protected] and Kevin and I will discuss it on the show.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         

  • NJ

    Very informative. I’ve seen both positions from goalies and didn’t really think about it. It’s nice to have an idea about what goalies are up to or how they let that fist bad goal in sometimes… Of in this case the last shot.

  • Jay (not J)

    I thought that Talbot pulled a bit of a Luongo on that play. His body language seemed aimed at the official who didn’t call the icing and he never got recovered in time to make that save. Maybe that wasn’t the case, but it looked to me at the time that Talbot was just a tad distracted.

    • Jay (not J)

      agreed. Everyone in the world thought it was icing. I did to. But it wasnt I guess. I read Kerry Frasers explanation and it made sense. I would have to think if Talbot hadnt been so focused on the icing he would have saved it. However, focus on the puck and play to the whistle.

  • BDH

    Wait, I thought the goalies are voodoo! End of story!

    You mean that goaltending is actually a complex position with a great deal of technique and strategy and that small adaptations can actually have a large impact, good or bad, and that goalies need to constantly address these adaptations in an effort to maintain and improve their ability??? Whodathunk!

    Thanks Gregor, for an insightfull, well researched article and interview. More of these please!

  • Spydyr

    It seems like goalies come here with good fundamentals then go all to crap.

    My theory is they start trying to do to much behind the the $hit show the Oilers have for a defence.

  • Shit bitch cunt fuck

    Dead angle shots are tough, as are wraparounds. Both have to be stopped, but both are problematic for goalies, especially because even if they are stopped the puck ends up right in front of the net. Shots like that create chaos. Definitely not as easy as it looks.

    That being said, Talbot has had one bad game. He’s looked so good in previous games, I’m not ready to start worrying about our goaltending just yet.
    When he’s playing well he’s solid, controls rebounds, sees the puck through screens, makes himself big, etc. That one Calgary game looks to be an anomaly.

      • For Pete's Sake!

        I already hate the “coaches challenge” rule. The fact that it’s limited to offsides and “was the goal a goal,” situations is equally stupid.

        If you’re going to allow a coaches challenge, you should allow it on any call that can effect the outcome of the game.

        But really, what have we got referees and linesman for? Let them do their jobs and get rid of the coaches challenge.

        Yes, referees make mistakes sometimes but so what. It’s part of sports. And it gives fans like us something to talk about after the game.

  • Shit bitch cunt fuck

    It’s always something, but this year is different. I actually enjoy watching these games because their is effort. Either a solid goal tending performance so far to keep us in it, and/or a an attacking offence sparked by McDavid. Now that McDavid is down, I wont be surprised if my Talbot and Anders will poop their pants.

    TL;DR- The Oilers are as trustworthy as a dry fart after eating a donair poutine

  • camdog

    Most of the time those cross ice plays to the net are intended as a pass to an attacking forward, so you want to cheat to get across, especially if you are a goalie for the Oilers (as the Oil don’t always have reliable d-man).

    The Oilers generally don’t fire enough shots from the angles. This season has been better. They still need to fire more of these shots at the net, it messes with the goalies and delays their motion across the net when a pass is made to the open man.

  • camdog

    I don’t think the Oilers defense is as bad as people make it out to be. They’re a rebuilt group with some young guys,give them time to gel with each other and establish a comfort zone,they’ll be alright. The Philly game is probably a good indicator of good they can be.

    • Wendy01

      Philly is a bad team with a worse defence than the Oil right now. That being said, I think you are right that this Defencewill get better as the year goes on strictly based on the fact that this coaching staff is teaching them proper fundamentals. The message seems to be get better or have a seat upstairs. I like our young guys and hold out hope that either the veterans get better or they won’t be here for long.

  • brian_d

    You can never really appreciate how much mental fortitude goes into being a goalie. Having to maintain focus despite lapses in action? I can’t do it playing ball hockey in a high school gym, let alone on a sheet of ice with NHL caliber shooting. That being said, I haven’t spent a lifetime doing it, and don’t receive a 7 salary figure to do it, either. The expectations are different. Talbot accordingly acknowledged that he didn’t perform to expectations. He was so hot to start the year, but there’s nothing like playing in front of a shaky, unreliable and unpredictable defense–one that could give up an odd man rush at the drop of a hat, on a lousy turnover–to shake the confidence that he had.

    Here’s to hoping he shakes it off, works hard, and his team rallies around him.

  • NJ


    I’d be curious to hear his opinion on some of the advanced goalie stats, or on the different quality of shots stats that are popping up. Which one of these actually reflects what is happening in the net?

    I think Valiquette’s royal road and green shots/red shots analytics has been useful, and since he was a former NHL goalie, I thought it had credibility. But there may be others we are not aware of.

    Any goalie analytics that also tie in the play of the defence in front of him would be very interesting.

    • Tys35

      Advanced stats are hard enough as-is, never mind for goalies. The average non-goalie doesn’t understand the position and how much it takes to read a goalie and determine their skills/ability. So many factors must be taken into account. Obviously I’m not an NHL GM, but I’m not convinced that GM’s are using Goalie Coachs to the best of their ability, and I think there aren’t enough goalie scouts in the league. Unfortunately, stats, no matter the context, can never truly determine the worth of a goalie. It’s essentially a case of, it takes one to know one.

      • Johnnydapunk

        I think the best way to judge the importance of a goalie is in the simple sense that if your goalie doesn’t let a puck in, you will never lose.

        One place they should be looking is how finland does it, goalie coaches are at most levels of hockey there and is part of a player’s training at an early age. For a country of 5 million there are a lot of NHL or near NHL quality goalies. There is a very strong emphasis on goaltending and that in turn makes even scouting for goalies easier and better as more attention is paid to them.

        I played goal as a kid and a bit as an adult, I actually hated the pressure as a kid and I just felt the stress of knowing that if I made a mistake, the team would lose. Perhaps that’s why am rarely very hard on critiquing goalies, in the sense that if they let a bad one in, I’m not happy but imagine they are feeling it too. It’s a stressful position at least I found.

        • CDNinATL

          Canada starting this year is changing in how goalies are trained at the younger ages. Coaches have to take training in how run drills for the goalies. They’re modeling the program after how Finland and Sweden trains their goalies. So Canada should slowly start to see results from that but it may take 10 years.

          I wish USA Hockey would do the same. My son is a goalie for a bantam A travel team here in Atlanta and USA Hockey does NOTHING to train goalies. He does have a former goalie from the University of Alaska (division 1 hockey school….so he’s good) that helps out a bit for one of his practices each week but beyond that, we have to pay out of pocket for extra training time for him.

          That said, goalies are special sort. What kind of person does it take to be the last line of defense for your team? It’s not an easy position to play and the mental fortitude needed is HUGE. I know my son hates letting in goals that he knows he should have stopped.

  • match16

    Talbot said in the post-game interview that the uncalled icing was a non-factor as he had a couple of seconds to focus back on the play once the whistle wasn’t blown.
    These goals happen to every goalie in the league, he’ll learn from it.