Today, I'm going to discuss the trend of goalies playing deeper in the crease. Up front, I am going to say that I love this technique and I believe it is right up there with the butterfly in terms of effectiveness and impact on goaltending and how we see the position.
In my experience, after an initial adaptation period, goalies don’t end up giving up those 1 or 2 more goals from the perimeter. The flip side of being deeper in your net and cutting down less of the angle is that you have a few more feet to react to shots. In MLB, most hitters stand at the back of the batter’s box in order to give themselves a few more moments to recognize and swing at pitches coming in at them at the same speeds as NHL shots. The same principle ends up working for goalies who stand deeper in the net and with an average size over 6’2” and 201 pounds, goalies already fill up a lot of net, so they don’t have to extend too far to reach the corners. And on the flimsiest of excuses to post this, take a look at José Bautista’s back leg in this “random” gif I found. It’s practically on the back chalk line of the batter’s box. More time to react and see the puck/ball gives you more time to save/crush the ball/puck into the glove/bleachers and make the opposing team/Texas Rangers hang their head/cry.
Going back a few years to before the beautiful city of Vancouver tried to burn itself down after losing game 7 to the Bruins, there is a great example of the drawbacks of old school extreme challenging vs playing deeper in the net. Vancouver scored this goal to take a 1-0 lead in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Here’s Henrik Lundqvist, showing the Bruins up close, how playing deeper in the net, might have helped Tim Thomas make that save
There are many other benefits of playing deeper in the crease, but this post is getting too long, so I will call this part 1 and continue the subject in a subsequent post. off-label benefits