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12-12-2012, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Farkas View Post
I've watched nothing but Islanders games from that era the past few days - chiefly the 1982 and 1983 Stanley Cup Finals... Killion could probably do a better job pointing out the technical aspects of what I'm looking at with the old guard of net guardians. So I fell back on fundamental principles. Some say "positioning" - I say, "kind of..." ...the thing I look for is anticipation. I love a goalie that reads a play well, show me a goalie that can do that and I'll show you a pro.
You called? .... and yes, Billy Smith was a tremendous goalie, a real Money Player. Mentally tough, played the position aggressively with a mean streak and never say die attitude. Excellent skater as you mentioned, technically sound when it came to playing the angles, no fear & would as called for read the players body language, lie of the puck on the blade of his stick which was/is a dead giveaway as to what the guys likely about to try on. Be it a snap, wrister, slapshot or deke, possible pass to a team mate or whatever.

Your taught how to read these things. Move towards the shooter well outside of the paint on a longer shot using the blue line or centre ice red line paint markings on the boards to the left or right using your posts as guides; straight out if the shooters at centre. If a deke, you'll read it early as per the lay of the puck on the guys blade, stick straight out as opposed to left or right depending on how he shoots. Economy of movement, giving them nothing to shoot at. You wont have to make "sensational saves" as the puck will either go wide, wind up in your catcher, right on your pads, stick or wherever, you know its going wide or youve got it, and thereafter its a matter of rebound control & whenever possible instantaneous & immediate transition back to the rush out of your zone, catching the opponents stunned, on there heels, deep in your own zone chasing your forwards, in Smiths case some serious skaters who could really fly like Nystrom back down the ice.

Communication with ones defenceman & forwards critical, and I mean seriously important, telling them to clear bodies from the shooting lane so you can see the puck and doing it yourself if required with your stick, inside your crease or well outside of it. Though your job is to prevent goals, a guy like Smith and a few others kicked it up a notch (Plante was really the fore-runner to this philosophy) whereby they were also fully cognizant of conversion & transition through complete rebound control. Not enough to just "block" or just "stop" the puck, its how you do it, subtle angulations of the blocker, pad, stick, re-directing it whenever possible right onto the tape of a waiting team mate & training them to expect it, a rush, wide open breakout & or breakaway from the goal line back out your objective as a netminder.

An analogy would be the axiom Coaches tell players, as in "dont watch your pretty pass, go & get to where your supposed to be, where the pucks going". Some guys, Palmateer, Fuhr again, because they were always getting caught & had to rely on reflexes a lot more would indeed deliberately sensationalize saves, like theyd just caught the Hope Diamond with their GM12. As a one time goalie myself I was never impressed with such nonsense but I digress...

Skating, stickwork, angles, being ultra aggressive, almost playing it like a 3rd Defenceman or even a Rover. Jumping on the puck & stickhandling out to the blue-line, playing out of the paint, not a risk taker per se' but a beyond effective weapon going from reverse to forward. Implicitly understanding the angles, and I mean all of them from the far blue to the centre ice red line & your own blue line to your crossbar; hugging the posts when plays behind the net and looking through the mesh, stick flush to the ice, poking, slashing, barking out orders & making life a living Hell for anyone who dares come within 3 ft of you let alone wanders into the crease.

That was Smith, whereas Fuhr played it deeper, was more pure goaltending, acrobatic as he had to be sitting that far back, sensational with the catcher, toe save in full splits etc, fun to watch, but not nearly as aggressive as Smith, who I rank right up there with the best of the best, a real "team goalie". I dont see the Isles winning multiple cups like that without that guy inbetween the pipes. He was a Monster Killer. Its really too bad that entire Dynasty & the terrific players are somewhat lost, sandwiched as they are between the Habs & Oilers.

Last edited by Killion: 12-12-2012 at 08:32 PM.
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