There's an interesting dynamic in the Anaheim crease this year, which presents us with a perfect topic for today's class. What makes this situation so different from other NHL teams is not only the rise and fall of the two goalies over the last two years, but more importantly, their style. As is the case with any two goalies, there are some similarities, but with Jonas Hiller and J.S. Giguere, I see two goalies with different styles heading in opposite directions.
I'm confident Hiller will play many more games than Giguere this season and I know what kind of rotation the coaching staff will implement as well. I love to go off on tangents related to technique and mental toughness, but my goal this week is to do that, but keep it focused and to the point. It's a very easy prognosis to make, but only after you understand Hiller's outstanding technique and why Giguere's technique has caused his game to slowly decline.
HILLER – Jonas is already one of the best butterfly goalies in the NHL because of his AGILITY. By agility, I mean his ability to move in and out of the butterfly in all different areas with ease. The main source for his amazing agility stems from two things- his foot speed and his core strength. He doesn't make saves or move around with just his legs, he actually moves with his core muscles and the legs follow. Powerful lateral pushes stem from a strong core.
So the stronger stomach and hips a goalie has, the more powerful that push becomes. In fact, more pro goalies are quickly learning that the hips and stomach area is where they MUST generate more power in order to move even faster and stronger side to side. Nothing else needs to be said about this … it's an absolute fact. Therefore, when you combine Hiller's hand and foot speed along with his ability to recover in a sharp, quick and balanced manner, it gives him that "smooth as glass" look that only the most elite NHL goalies have (Fleury, Luongo, etc.)
What does his technique tell me? Well, Hiller is much more mobile and efficient after making the first save. He doesn't dive and flop around like Tim Thomas or Peter Budaj, he actually pushes laterally in the butterfly and slides to either side with his shoulders square to the shooter. He takes away the top portion of the net in a fashion that allows him to stay on his knees, ready to bounce up into a normal stance or stay in the tight butterfly at the top of his crease. There is very little desperation in his game and his movements make him appear extremely confident in all areas.
GIGUERE – J.S. is the type of goaltender that thrives on body positioning and very little movement. He will rarely combine a string of movements like Hiller to make a save and control the rebound. Instead, Giguere will find a spot at the top of his crease, make one strong push, and then pl