Leclaire vs Miller, Great saves and Positional conclusions…

Leclaire vs Miller, Great saves and Positional conclusions…


Sens vs Sabres Dec 26th 2009

Even if you’re not a Ryan Miller fan it is hard to not appreciate his goaltending mastery. In the highlight versus the Sens you will see a brilliant glove save at the 0.22 minute mark of the clip. As many of you already know, keeping both pads flush to the ice when making a save is crucial for a goalie’s balance. Miller fights the urge to lift his trapper pad up when the shot is flying to the top left corner. Instead Miller stays very balanced and allows his trapper to make the save well in front of his body. Having the gloves forwards reduces the upward elevation of the puck eliminating the top corners. The “Miller Man” makes this save look easy but we all know that looks can be deceiving.

Although in my opinion Leclaire is not on the same playing field as Miller he does demonstrate a great knee shuffle during this video highlight. The knee shuffle is a relatively new technique where instead of lifting the leg up to perform a power-slide the goalie simply extends one leg out and brings in the opposite leg in quickly which creates a slight lateral movement. This is a great play when a goalie needs to add a few inches to his positioning without having to compromise any gaps in the body were the player can score.

Unfortunately, on the second goal Leclaire fell victim to the “Blind Driver” (see article “Most Important Element of Goaltending” ). If you notice Pommenville beats Leclaire on a one timer, low to the trapper side. Leclaire made two fundamental mistakes which lead to this goal.

First, he did not turn his head to identify if Pommenville was a left versus a right hand shot (long versus short movement ). Pommenville is indeed a right hand shot meaning Leclaire should not have performed a long slide that gave up the trapper side of the net. This omission led Leclaire to be square to Pommenville’s body instead of the puck.

The other mistake Leclaire made is less obvious. After repeatedly observing this trend I have concluded that when a player, such as Pommenville, shows a backward stride and momentum in preparation for the one timer, the shot will almost always travel in the direction of the shooters forehand. For example, Pommenville is a righty so the shot traveled to the right. It is very challenging for a right hand shot to shoot far left side as his momentum is moving backwards during the shoot. The body mechanics and momentum force the shooter to almost always shoot to the same direction as their forehand. If Leclaire picked up on this tendendy he could have shortened his slide leading to a square save towards the right side of the net.

Understand the game, master the position, own the opposition

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