While watching the game between the Canucks and Flames last night, I was amazed at the shot that Jannik Hansen scored on Kari Ramo in the first period. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, Hansen, who is a right-handed shot comes down the right side of the ice and into the Calgary zone. At about the top the circle he winds up a rips a slapshot. The shot is about as perfect as you can get and placed just inside the right post and crossbar. In hockey lingo it’s a short-side tip shelf shot.
During the first period intermission, this goal was addressed by the fellas at Sports Net in Canada. They stated they believed this was a fault of the goaltender. I was first taken back by this as I was 1) Taught never to blame the goalie for a goal since there are 5 other players out on the ice, 2) Sometimes, especially in the NHL shots are just that good.
The argument was made that as Ramo was going down into his butterfly position he dropped his left, or gloved hand allowing the puck to go over his left shoulder and into the net. When they showed the replay what they were saying made complete sense. I did my own research and would like share my findings.
From what I gather goalies of the current generation have been taught mechanics and body position that is varied slightly from what was previously taught. I understand this because the position that has progressed the most of the course of the game has been that of the goalie.
In the early eras goalies were considered ‘stand-up’ goalies and make saves by kicking their legs out away from their body. They rarely went down on their knees and were often scored on shots that were low and on the ice. As the game progressed, goalies started to drop to their knees in order to take away the lower the portion of the net. This is called the ‘butterfly’ style of goaltending. When the goalie drops down into his butterfly position he closes the area between his legs and his pads lie perpendicular with the ice surface taking away much of the lower net.
Where stand up goalies were great at stopping high shots as they were already on their feet, they were not very good at stopping low shots. When the butterfly position came into play this took care of getting beat with a shot along the ice. What this also did, however, was give the shooters the opportunity to shoot high understanding that the goalie was going to drop on almost, if not, every shot.
Players started to shoot for the top corners more often and goalies once again started to get beat. Some goalies are now taught a hybrid style of goaltending that Martin Brodeur used late in his career (after being a butterfly goalie). The hybrid style suggests that the goalie make a decision to go down or stay up based on the specific moment.
Going back to the butterfly style, the goalies were getting beat because they didn’t have ‘active hands.’ Many times as they would drop down, they would also their hands to drop leaving the top of the net open. On the contrary, if they leave their hands up in the air, then there is a hole underneath their arms and above their leg pads.
To remedy this, when goalies are standing they are taught to keep their elbow down and middle finger of the gloved hand pointed towards 11 O’Clock. They are also taught to keep the glove in front of them so they can visualize the puck going into the glove and to better control any rebounds.
In the instance last night, Karri Ramo is standing with gloved hand in good position. As he drops down, his glove drops and curls into his body at the same time the puck is going over his shoulder. Had he kept his glove up and out slightly it would have cut down the angle of trajectory. It would have also allowed him to move his glove up and out to make a play on the puck. When he dropped his hand, he effectively had to bring it back up to the make the save. He didn’t have enough time to do that.
As you watch the saves in this video, keep an eye on the glove of the goaltenders. Most of the time they are not dropping below their hips and always remain high. The result is a highlight reel glove save.
In contrast, in this video, the very first play #10, is a goal resulting from the goalie dropping his glove hand and then not being able to react to the shot fast enough. The glove almost appears to be resting on the pads when the goalie goes down and begins to slide across.
Keeping the glove hand up and out in front of you also gives the illusion to the shooter that you are covering more net than you actually are. As with coming out of the crease and playing the angles, you are taking away what the shooter can see. Shooters are taught to look at the net behind the goaltender, not the goaltender themselves. If you take away as much net as possible, it’s more difficult mentally on the shooter to make a decision as to where they have a high probability of scoring.
I was 3-1 for my picks yesterday with the CHI/NYR matchup picked exact (minus the OT prediction). My predictions for tonight’s match-ups are as follows:
Winnipeg 3, Boston 1
Ottawa 4, Buffalo 3 (OT)
Philadelphia 2, Tampa Bay 5
Edmonton 2, St. Louis 3
Carolina 0, Nashville 3
Pittsburgh 4, Dallas 3
Minnesota 3, Colorado 2