Wednesday Drill of the Week: Goalie Screen Series

Two goalie drills this week – working on screens and traffic in front.

First Drill: Screen/Angle Adjustment

Screen Angle Adjustment

Simple screen and angle adjustment drill for goalies. First part has shooters (F’s) on each dot with a pile of pucks. A left shot is on the lower hash, a right shot is on the high hash, both in a shooting position. One shooter is at the net front acting as a screen. The drill starts with the F passing from the dot to the shooter on the hash for either a catch & shoot or a one-timer. The screening players job is to make it difficult for the goalie to track the shot release. The drill then alternates sides.

A quick hitter, I put my goalies through it in two different sets of 8 shots each. One time through, talk to them about what they want to do differently (for us it was usually what side of the screen they were looking through and how they played the shot). After processing, put them back in the net to get a second set in.

Second Drill: 8 Puck Screen/Rebound

8 Puck Screen Rebound

A fun and challenging screen/rebound drill for goalies. Coach stands in the middle of the ice near the hash marks with a pile of pucks (Left side/#1). In front, there are two players screening the goaltender (side by side). A left shot and right shot are on their off-side on the flanks of the net. The drill starts with the coach throwing a puck into the goalie – show the puck and then throw it through legs/onto the goalies pads. The two screeners in front just stay there, the players on the flank are hunting for rebounds and playing any live pucks. The second time through, the screen players stand in a stack (Right side/#2), creating a different type of screen challenge for the goalie.
The goalies are challenged to pick up pucks through traffic as well as react quickly to rebounds off their pads. Goalies must have a good track through legs and sticks, as well as a quick push to wherever the puck ends up in the crease.

Scoring Goals

If you haven’t seen it yet, Steve Valiquette has a segment on MSG called “Valley’s View”. He breaks down scoring and goaltending in NHL games and looks at many different elements of the position and the game. Here is a GREAT five minute video about the types of shots that generate goals and how and why that happens. My key takeaway? Much like it says in the notes of the video – “Those sequences are all qualified by the fact the goalie has less than half a second of sight before the puck releases from the shooters stick.”

Want to score goals? A quick release and an element of deception/angle change for the goaltender.—red-shots.html

Follow Steve on Twitter at @valleys_view or catch him on MSG Hockey Night Live.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Goalie Center Shifts

A very simple drill that works on goaltenders shifting their body weight into the puck. Has a three step progression.

Center Shifts



The drill starts with a goalie in the net and a cone at the center line. A shooter is mid slot and off to one side (just above the hash marks) with pucks. The goalie starts standing up and centered on the cone. The shooter shoots a puck at the net, and the goalie shifts his weight to make the save. The second progression is the goalie starts on his knees and again shifts his center line to the new angle as the shot comes. The third progression is to have the goalie start standing and then drop into a butterfly to make the save.

The concept behind this drill is to work on goaltenders moving their body into pucks – too many goalies rely on extension saves vis a vis a center shift save and moving into the puck. The cone is used as a visual marker for goalies to see how much (or how little) they have moved off their original center line. Goalies should be moving and pushing into every shot, and the drill should work both sides.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Agility Shooting

A simple half ice shooting drill that is good for goalies and for shooters.

Agility Shooting

Players are at all three spots with pucks. All three go on the whistle. X1 attacks along the goal line and tries to shoot or stuff short side. x2 skates to the dot, escapes and then attacks hard through the seam along the circle. X3 skates along the blue line, does an acceleration turn around the far dot, a tight turn around the near dot and then takes a long shot from the top of the circles. Players then switch lines after shooting.

Each player has a slightly different shooting situation that they are simulating and should play it accordingly. X1 needs to attack the net, protecting the puck towards the goal line. X2 needs to accelerate hard through the seam, shooting with their feet moving. X3 needs to work on attacking wide and getting a shot of in-stride and on the lead foot. Goalies see three different game situations – a goal line stuff, a seam attack and a long shot from the wide angle. Each needs to be played slightly differently – a VH or lean/reverse VH on the goal line attack, a quick recovery and strong play on the seam attack – upright and on angle, and then a depth adjustment on the wide attack.

Goaltenders – Playing on the Edge

Anyone who has played, coached or worked in hockey knows that being a goaltender is different from any other position in any other sport. All eyes are on you to not make a mistake. Perfection is the goal, yet is seldom obtainable. You are measured not by how many times you succeed, but by how many times you fail. A starting goaltender will often play 80-90% of his or her teams minutes over the course of a season.

For these reasons, goaltenders have to be able to welcome and invite pressure. They have to embrace the challenge and learn to play on the edge. The mental game is the heart and soul of the position. It is a fine line between being sharp and being jittery, between being calm and being too relaxed. The “Edge” for every goaltender is going to be different, but every goaltender must find that edge where they are mentally and physically at their peak. Every successful goaltender I’ve ever worked with has known their edge and how to get to it without going over.

What is the “Edge?” It’s the point where “I don’t care if I give up a goal” meets “You’re never going to score on me.” It’s where “Holy crap I have to play great for us to win” meets “I’m the best goaltender in this league.” The “Edge” is the intersection between serenity and anxiety, a state of hyper-alertness where you can confidently welcome new challenges without dwelling on the past.

How do you get to the “Edge?” Every goaltender, just like every person, is different. Some listen to music. Some visualize. Some watch film. Some use routines. You shouldn’t be too nervous or too relaxed. It doesn’t matter what gets you there, what’s important is that you can get to a place where you feel confident and ready to play at your peak.


Goaltender Quality Starts

This weekend I spent a lot of time in the car on a recruiting road trip with a good friend. During our hours in the car, I was introduced to the concept of Goaltender Quality Starts. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea as a baseline measurement of a goaltender’s performance.

A Quality Start is defined as any game where a goaltender has a Save Percentage higher than .912 (league average). Quality Starts can also be awarded in games where the goaltender has a save percentage between .885 and .912 and gives up less than three goals. This controls for games where goaltenders see 20 shots and give up 2 goals, for example. These numbers are based upon winning percentages – when a goaltender has a .885 or higher SV%, teams have at least a .500 winning percentage.

While these numbers don’t speak to the nuances of a goaltenders game (how he controlled the puck, his skating, save selection, etc) they do put a measurement on the end result and allow coaches and statisticians to quantify performance. The stat is also very illuminating when it comes to winning and losing. Our record last year when our goaltenders had a quality start was 7-1-1 (.833 winning %). When we did not receive a quality start, we were 0-14-2 (.067 winning %).

I like the use of a quality start metric as a benchmark to measure performance – did a goaltender give you a chance to win?

A full explanation and the details of the stat can be found on the hockey prospectus blog here (full credit to Robert Vollman for his work and writing):

Learning and Development at Goalie Camp

I’m spending this week working at a great goalie camp on the beautiful campus of Merrimack College. There are 96 goaltenders of every age attending, as well as over 20 coaches. Goalies and coaches have come to North Andover from Sweden, Canada and almost every corner of the US.

On and off the ice, the exchange of ideas is tremendous. We trade ideas on everything from drills, to technique, to situational play. Coaches and players are spitting out ideas all the time. We are adapting, teaching and learning things both new and old. In our down time, we discuss situations, techniques and ideas. Concepts and teaching points are coming from plays are coaches alike.

Today, we saw a goaltender use a triangle push to go from post to post against a player moving along the (a new method we hadn’t thought about but loved). We taught a lean technique (popular in Sweden) for plays below the goal line. A challenging day of growth and development for everyone involved.

This camp pushes coaches and goaltenders beyond their comfort zones and forces everyone to try new things and learn new methods. We expose ourselves to new approaches and different styles and our own methods and styles evolve.

Growth and development occur when you are in an environment that encourages people to try new things and not fear failure. By surrounding ourselves with people different from ourselves who have different approaches to the game, we are growing as players and as coaches.