Net Play Evolution

There have been recent advances in save techniques goalies use on plays around the net.  I consider net plays as any shot or risk of a shot from the bottom of the circles to behind the net.  See diagram below.  The new save technique is called a “Post Lean” or “Reverse VH”. When used properly and in the right situation it can be a very effective save that provides a tighter post seal and better rebound control.  Post leans have several parts and variations but I will try to keep the purpose and teaching points as simple as possible.  It is important to note that the age, size, and flexibility of each goaltender will dictate how often and when to use this save skill.

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Purpose.  The purpose of this save is to seal the short side post from a down position while maintaining strength, balance, and mobility to be able to move laterally and vertically.  The photo below shows a post lean on the blocker side.  This is actually considered a “high” post lean because the goalie’s upper body is more upright.  It should be used on plays further away to cover the top of the net better.

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As you can see the goaltender has the short side sealed with the post leg down.  The goaltender should also keep their inside leg up.  This is to help provide strength on the post by the skate pushing the upper body into the post.  Having the inside leg up also helps to transfer weight when moving laterally.  The post side skate can seal the post 3 different ways.  1. Toe gap to post (the area of the pad between the toe of the skate and the bottom of the pad.)  2. Skate blade to post; 3. Shin of pad inside post.  There are pros and cons with each method and ultimately the goaltender could end up using all 3 methods throughout the course of a game. Flexibility and size usually determine the best method to seal the post for each individual goaltender.   The game situation may also determine what method to use.

Below is a “paddle down” post lean used on wraparounds and when there is a backdoor option.  The paddle provides a good seal and can also take away the passing lane.

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Below is an example of a goaltender using a post lean to the glove side.  Remember that this technique is only used when the puck is in the “net play” zone and there is a risk of wrap, jam, or pass out in tight.   To the glove side the goaltender should have their backhand turned out to help block passes.

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Benefits:

  1. Stronger on post; better seal on post.
  2. Stick can be more active breaking up jams, pass outs, and lateral feeds.
  3. Less holes and better rebound control.

Common problems:

  1. The goaltender uses the “post lean” on plays above the bottom of the circles.
  2. The goaltender drops into the “post lean” too early and lose mobility.
  3. The goaltender does not have the strength or technique to move laterally.

Since this save is relatively new there are many youth goalies that are not sure how or when to use it.   A common problem is that the goalie is not patient when using it and they drop into it when there is no risk of a low attack, which puts them into a vulnerable position.  Or they drop into when the puck is too far away from the net and they open up the top of the net.  Another problem or “complaint” by young goaltenders is they don’t feel like they can move laterally.  This is either because they don’t have the strength yet or they do not know how to transfer their weight.  Trial and error in practice is the best way to learn this technique.  Be patient and only use it only when it’s the right situation.