Pop-Up Blockers

Justin Goldman




Goldman uncovers/analyzes a new trend among young puckstoppers


When it comes to uncovering the next great goalie prospect for your keeper team, you always want to seek out those with elite lateral movement. Not only does excellent lateral quickness mean the goalie is better fit to post quality stats because they are squared up for rebounds, but they will also excel at combating traffic in front of the net, tracking the puck on high-speed odd-man rushes and staying upright for the second and third chances.


And since today's pro goalies need to constantly refine their style and footwork in order to move in the most efficient manner possible, those that possess superior lateral movement (not because of their athleticism, but because of their ability to track pucks effectively and execute) are more primed to become a valuable long-term keeper.


Just in the last week alone, I've seen Tuukka Rask, Semyon Varlamov, Jon Quick and Alexander Salak use an advanced butterfly recovery technique that is a perfect example of this refined and elite movement. It's called the "Pop-Up" recovery, and while it is extremely effective, it is not easy to perform on a consistent basis. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the goalies I named above are some of the best young prospects in the game right now.


The pop-up recovery occurs when a goalie, already down in the butterfly, pops back up into their ready stance without using either knee as a pedestal for support. So they literally recover into their stance by lifting both knees off the ice at the exact same time. It takes a tremendous amount of core strength and balance to pull this off, but when executed correctly, the goalie benefits greatly from the efficiency and agility it provides. For this type of recovery, it is best to use when the puck is less than eight feet away from the goalie.


The pop-up recovery is effective because it creates stability and generates mobility. When the traditional back-side recovery technique is used, goalies take longer to execute a series or sequence of movements in order to get into position for a rebound shot. But the pop-up recovery not only takes less time, it generates better net coverage and gives goalies the ability to move either way laterally with more ease, power and speed.


Another benefit of the pop-up recovery technique is taking away space above the shoulders. In an era where the tight or calm butterfly style dominates the game, forwards are quickly learning to get the puck up in a hurry. They are being taught to change the aerial angle to such a severe degree that leg pads and chest protectors do not have a chance at stopping the shot. So being able to project the entire body upward and directly back into an original stance in a heartbeat is quite a