Every young goalie has an idol that they have looked up to. Whether it was Domink Hasek, Carey Price, or J.S. Guigure. These idols are huge for young goalies, it gives you inspiration and you’re their biggest fan. However, you have to realize you are not Carey Price so try to play your own style not his! NHL goalies have bodies that have been refined for the highest level of hockey in the world. These goalies have also been honing their specific style of goaltending for longer than most of us have been playing hockey. One thing that young goaltenders can take from any high-level goaltender, the “why? ” of every action they take in the net.
Each goalie in the NHL has been playing goalie, training their bodies and minds to be able to perform at the highest level in the world. This has taken years upon years of training with goalie coaches, workouts, vision, and mental training. They have developed muscles that are far beyond the typical goalie. This extreme muscle development is what allows them to move flawlessly around the crease while staying balanced and under control. If you do not have the strength to move on your skates like these goalies it will be even more difficult to play like them. Along with the physical development, they have the mental strength to play through an 82-game season enduring the highs and lows. The mental side of goaltending is arguably the hardest in any sport. NHL goalies are masters of their own mind, they have played countless years of hockey experiencing what works on the mental side of their game and what doesn’t, much like them refining their bodies. They have all had terrible stretches of hockey, along with great stretches, which allows them to use their past experiences to propel them to success at higher levels.
The goalies that are being emulated have access to everything! Any tool they want to use for training purposes they can use, while we obviously don’t have the resources of an NHL team. I remember being at a goalie camp when I was younger and seeing a picture of Marty Turco’s stall in the Dallas Stars locker room. He had five blockers, seven gloves and two sets of pads. NHL goalies have ice time at their finger tips along with the best goalie coaches in the world. They have optimized their playing style specifically to their strengths. They know exactly why they hold their glove or their stick the way they do, because it gives them an advantage and is what works best for them.
It is important for young goalies to try new things, discover what works for you. Your body isn’t the same as NHL goalie’s bodies. Each of us have different strengths in our game, some are better skaters, have a better glove, or have extremely good vision. Find out what this is for you and use your strengths to your advantage.
There is plenty that we can learn and use from watching and studying NHL goalies. However, it is not emulating goalies exactly, it’s understanding. Understanding the “why” is the most important part of development. Understanding why goalies do something a specific way like why Carey Price holds his glove the way he does and what advantage that is giving him opposed to holding it in a different place. For example, Pekka Rinne plays the puck better than most goalies who will ever put pads on. Should we all go out in a game and try to play the puck or as much as he does? No, we shouldn’t because we physically can’t. What we can do is understand why he is so good at it. On a dump in he is extremely good on his edges so he can get behind the net as efficiently as possible, he is checking over his shoulder as he skates back addressing where his defenders are for an outlet pass. He looks at where the forecheckers are on the opposing team. As he stops the puck on the boards, he can keep his stick in a position where he is able to make a pass, shoot the puck off the glass, or make a move. He stays patient with the puck on his stick, not panicking because he trusts his stickhandling and passing abilities. Understanding why he checks his shoulder, why he keeps his stick so upright as he stops the puck, and why he plays the puck off the glass far more often that he passes across the ice will propel your abilities as well. It’s all about taking steps to get to where you want to be. The first step is asking “why?”, and then the application of the why. If we want to be as good of a puck player as Pekka we need to start with being able to get behind the net fast and stopping the puck behind the net. Simple things that we can do without having the raw skill of him, until we develop the confidence and skill that will allow us to do what we want.
Understanding the why will require focus and determination. Failure will occur with goaltending no matter what we are doing, it’s a large part of hockey in general and development. If you get scored on you try something new, understand why you got scored on, and decide what can be done to fix it.
Goaltending is fun, so have fun with it!