Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chewing on some positional thoughts....

Here's a goalie thing I've been thinking about for a few days and something I'm finally piecing together as a reason I get burned sometimes:

You know how when the puck is beside or behind your net and you're on the post, but then it gets passed either up the boards or even somewhere in the slot?

The reaction you SHOULD have is to make the appropriate depth change as you square up to the puck's new position, which usually means at least being at the top of the crease.

The reaction *I* have is to just square up with the puck, but I'm almost always still at least halfway deep in my crease. I'm thinking about why that is so that I can change my reaction.

I think the reason I do that is because when there are lots of bodies around me, I get nervous about back-door plays, so I want to stay deep and basically not have a 3 feet of empty space behind me for opponents to  fire a rebound if it goes off deeper to the sides.

Here's a picture of my nightmare scenario and the reason my mind tethers me to the net. Obviously, I leave a LOT of open net in the B position, so anybody who can lift the puck and has some aim to their shot probably has a goal there, but if it's on the ice, I'm stopping it AND the rebound as the amount of lateral movement required to get over and stop that rebound is minimal. Whereas in the A position, I'm in a great position to block the shot, but am pretty much helpless on the rebound. Kinda have to hope you swallow it there.

So, I know I need to get it more instinctive to push out higher when play moves from out behind my net, which means getting over the fear in the image above. I mean, if you're playing the odds, I think you're still better with A, but it's hard to convince myself of that in the heat of the moment.

Lord knows I've done plenty of "push off the post to the top of the crease" drills, but when it's a drill with a set movement pattern ("start here, go here, shot"), maybe I'm developing a movement skill, but I'm not learning to react to a specific situation where there's variable risks involved.

In other words, if I've got one person shooting on me in a drill, there's no risk in coming way out of the crease. But when I can see a couple of opposing jerseys out of the corner of my eye and maybe my defense isn't all that stellar.... oooo baby am I cheating back and playing deep.

Maybe there's a happy medium? I'm not sure.

Thoughts from my goalie peeps? Compliments on my stick figure prowess?


Anonymous  December 1, 2010 at 12:49 PM  

in B, your 5 hole is open.
Maybe talk to your team, explain to them about this, and decide which is who's responsibility? You get the first shot, and rebounds are the d-men's?

Ms. Conduct  December 1, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

Artist's rendering, man...

I think teams all know that their job is to clear rebounds, but at the level I play, the skill and mobility and positioning just isn't necessarily there. I can say it's their job all day long but that doesn't mean it gets done.

Ally  December 1, 2010 at 1:28 PM  

The stick figure is just BEAUTIFUL! I wish I had that kind of skill...

Nick in New York  December 1, 2010 at 2:44 PM  

I hear you.

For me, part of the problem (mental) is that, if I'm pushing off the left post, it's with my left foot. So you balance out by applying pressure to your right foot - even just for a moment, right?

Well, my fear is that, if the back door play happens as I'm pushing off the post/transfering my weight to my right foot to keep balance, then I'm on the wrong foot to push into a lateral slide to the right to cover for the back door play.

So, if I stay, not ON the post, but NEAR the post and square to the puck, even though I'm too far back in my crease (read: on the goal line) I can at least keep the option to push off with my left foot into a slide across if the back door play develops.

Not saying that's the right way to play it, but that's what goes through my brain.

Does that make sense?

Nick in New York  December 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM  

also, based on the drawings, I think your leg pads are too wide. :P

Ms. Conduct  December 1, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

I LOL'd at that Ally. Ha!

Nick, yes that makes TOTAL sense and I recognize that very thought process especially if the puck is below the hash marks when it comes out in front of the net.

Nick in New York  December 1, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

I guess the bottom line for me is that playing "outside-in" is the hardest part of learning positioning. The posts - and my ability to base position based on feeling them - are so my security blanket. I just don't have any confidence that I can move and maintain proper angle when I'm on top of the crease.

Ms. Conduct  December 1, 2010 at 3:02 PM  

Artist's rendering, Nick!


I think the one thing I have always felt pretty good about, apart from the odd bad night, is knowing where my net is. I think because I play more of an inside out style... in downtime I wait with my back touching the center of the cross bar and move out as the rush comes, and 95% of the time don't have much trouble keeping my compass pointed the right way.

Occasionally I have to glance back and find my post if I've come out on an angle but try to do it well before the shooter is ready to release and it's enough to guide me back where I need to be.

I never tap the posts or anything to find my positioning. Just never felt the need with so many visual cues telling me right where I am.

Thank god ONE thing about this has come naturally... Haha.

maalivahti  December 1, 2010 at 7:05 PM  

I tap the posts but it's mostly a reassurance thing. "Oh, ok post, there you are". But if someone's coming down the wing pretty fast, I give it a good whack before moving out and getting into position. It's like I'm saying "let's go!"

Oh... this post wasn't about your posts. Sorry, got off track there. How are you on pushing laterally once you're down? Because in A, if you end up with a rebound to the trailing player, you just have to push to get across. Of course then you're still down, so they can just put it over your shoulder... so I guess I don't really know what I'm talking about...

But, um, love the stick figures! Yay!

Ms. Conduct  December 1, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

Post tapping looks cool to me, probably because I don't do it.

Lateral push while I'm down? Hahaha, yeah... I have knee shuffles? That's about it.

Nick  December 2, 2010 at 1:47 PM  

I think you have most of the answer if you reread what you're saying. You SHOULD telescope out, but as with most situations there are variables. For one, remember that angle is the priority before depth. Secondly, you're still playing the right odds by taking away the bottom of the net. The additional read (variable) I think you have to try and make in this scenario is to try and anticipate what the player in front is going to do. Are they the kind of player who's patient and will pass or are they going to let it go as soon as they get the puck?

Bottom line ... I don't think a bit deeper position hurts you too much especially if the other team has the majority of bodies in front of you. had an interview piece with Luongo (or his coach?) about adjusting his style to play a bit more mid crease instead of so far out. I think the same adjustment would help you in this situation.

Awesome stick figures! I have a copy of a rink diagram at the office on my white board for the same purpose when we get to talking about plays.

Scott  December 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

So I find myself doing the same thing when I play with the Dragons on wednesday because I have one guy who plays D that's .... in need of significant improvement. When he's on the ice I am playing a little deeper than I should because I know we are basically penalty killing.

From a technical perspective though the solution is two fold.

1. Puck to stick! - deflecting the puck to the corner with the stick allows you to control where it goes so that isn't not coming back up the middle. If it's coming short side that's really easy but if it's going to the weak side you are having to angle your stick so that the puck will end up not off you and back in the middle while also still covering the five hole incase of a tip.

2. Leg Extension vs Kick - if you kick your leg forward when making these saves the puck will come off your toe back into the middle where as if you extend your leg the puck should hit you and deflect off to your weakside corner.

Ideally in this situation I am making the save, tracking the puck and moving to the next position. That being said with traffic and bounces the scenario is the source of many a highlight goal where desperation and determination can play into your favor. Think the Hasek roll drill, Ronnie Hextall's paddle down behind his back in the 80s vs the oilers and the kid in Washington's save in last year's playoffs. Ideally you want to be set for every shot you face but the attitude that you want to keep it out more than they want to put it in has a huge effect.

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