Part I was capped with my statement that “Momentum…can still be successfully calculated after analyzing body language.” Since gauging a goalie’s momentum depends so much on your ability to read their body language (comprised of all movements and reactions), let’s dive right in and start learning exactly what to watch for.
Since the Six Sources of Struggle can’t be quantified with a numerical value, weighing one goalie against another is a moot point. Focus your analysis on the goalie as an individual respective to only his previous games and that will help you decide just what type of momentum was gained or lost. One goalie may be struggling more than another, but by exactly how much is impossible to determine.
In order to really maximize your understanding of how a goalie is playing compared to others that interest you, develop a system. For example, put your goalies on a dry erase board and start a line graph in the pre-season. Every goalie starts at the same value…a relative zero. As each game ends, decide whether the goalies gained or lost momentum. Win or lose, did they play better or worse than the last game? Just a few weeks into the season you’ll have a good idea of which goalies are more consistent than others, rather than focusing entirely on the usual statistics presented to you.
The Six Sources are encompassed by the core values of goaltending – body control and balance. Is the goalie’s overall movement well-balanced, square and mobile for second or third scoring opportunities? Alas, the beauty of goaltending today – much more standardized than you would think. Hybrid, Quebec, half, flybrid, whatever type of style you see, it’s all the same idea of building a solid wall and then moving it behind the puck, no matter where it happens to go. So without further…he-he-hesitation (har har) here is my official Six Sources of Struggle list!
You know how to analyze what a player does and then gauge what he could do next. Goalies are more complicated, however, because few truly know what to look for and few focus their attention while watching a game 100% on the goalie. I can tell you from experience, however, that once you start to peel back the layers of a goalie’s game, it gets more and more detailed and interesting to watch develop, or in some cases, crash and burn.
One major sign of struggle through body movement is hesitation. Does the goalie seem to pause for a moment before reacting? A hesitant goalie almost always makes a slow decision handling the puck. Does he hold it for unnecessary reasons? This could be due to a lack of confidence. Is he unsure of where to direct a shot on net, or where an outlet pass from behind his goal is heading? How deep is he playing in the crease? Hesitant goalies are often caught deep in their crease because they depend solely on their quick reflexes, not on their positioning. Goalies must consistently play at the top of their crease or suffer the consequences of constantly being sniped. Unless it’s Felix Potvin, Henrik Lundqvist or Manny Legace, all NHL goalies learn to get out of their comfort zone and take away the shooter’s time and space.
Rebound control is the most obvious sign of struggle, but not necessarily the most important for the goalies on your team. For example, if Miikka Kiprusoff gives up a rebound in the slot and effortlessly pushes to the top of his crease to make a nice rebound save, that’s not the same as Jason LaBarbera giving up the same type of rebound and ending up out of position because he’s so bulky and awkward in net. LaBarbera can’t get away with that, yet Kiprusoff handles it to perfection on a much more consistent basis. Which goalie is impacted more by the same type of rebound situation?