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Get to the front of the net and score more goals ...

The days of beating goalies with shots from the perimeter or beating them on clean looks from outside the dots don't happen very often anymore. If today's goalie has a clear sightline on the puck, for the most part, he or she is going to save it.

Net front traffic distracts goalies

This particularly holds true for goalies at older age levels of play. Younger goalies still learning their craft that also tend to be smaller in stature are still prone to make mistakes and get beat on easier shots from the perimeter or lower-risk scoring zones.

With better goalie play, how do today's forwards and defensemen combat this improved goalie play? First and foremost, the modern skater has better stick technology than in years past, which allows for quicker releases and increased velocity due to the slingshot effect of the stick's flex.

Get to the house (green lines) to increase scoring

Secondarily, players have learned to attack less from the perimeter and get into the higher percentage scoring areas of the offensive zone, commonly referred to as the "the house."

Last but not certainly not least (nor high-tech), successful teams and players are simply getting to the net more. Getting to the net accomplishes several things: (a) it takes the goalies' eyes away from the shot, (b.) it distracts and decreases the goalies' concentration, and (c.) getting to the net creates increased opportunities for tips, redirects, and rebound opportunities.

Since most players are visual learners, we have pulled together several videos from the recent IIHF u20 World Championships preliminary round game between the United States and Switzerland to illustrate how getting to the net can help score more goals.

The videos below specifically illustrate how four of Team USA's goals directly resulted from either getting to "the house," getting to the net or creating net front traffic for screening the goalie and redirect purposes.

Video 1 - Net front presence leads to a Team USA goal

As illustrated in video 1 below, the net front presence of Team USA Forward Landon Slaggert #19 blocks the vision of the Swiss goalie allowing Team USA Defenseman Brock Faber #14 the ability to fire a wrist shot into the top corner. Without the net front presence of Slaggert, the wrist shot from Faber would have been easily seen, and it resulted in a routine save for the Swiss goalie.

Video 2 - Net front presence leads to a Team USA redirect goal

As illustrated in video 2 below, the net front presence of Team USA Forward Thomas Bordeleau #9 not only distracts the vision of the Swiss goalie but also puts Bordeleau in perfect position for a beautiful redirect goal off the point shot from Team USA Defenseman Wyatt Kaiser #5.

Again, and similar to the video above, a lack of net-front presence would have made this a very routine save for a goalie at the World Junior level.

Video 3 - Net front screen of the goalie leads to a Team USA goal

As illustrated in video 3 below, the net-front presence and full screen of the Swiss goalie by Team USA Forward Brett Berard #21 gives the goalie no chance to save the absolute dart of a one-timer by Team USA Forward Thomas Bordeleau #9.

Not to take anything away from Bordeleau's shot which was taken from just outside "the house," and likely could have beaten the goalie clean without the screen, but it's Bordeleau's screen that ensures the goalie has no chance to make the play.

Video 4 - Team USA forward drives to "the house" while linemate screens goalie

As illustrated in video 4 below, the net-front presence by Team USA Forward Matt Knies #89 impairs the vision of the Swiss goalie and allows Team USA Forward Riley Duran #8 to bury one for the Red, White, and Blue. Also, note in this play that when Team USA forward Riley Duran takes the drop pass, he does not stay on the perimeter but rather makes a cut to the middle to get to "the house" to increase his chances. If Duran stays on the perimeter, this becomes a routine shot and save for an elite goalie.

The last thing to note here is Duran's presence of mind to realize not only is Knies impairing the goalie's vision, but the two Swiss defensemen are also contributing to the goalie's lack of vision. Duran uses all three as a beautiful screen setup before ripping his shot.

Wrapping up this post, we want this article to emphasize the theme that goalies are better nowadays, and ripping a "bar down" shot when the goalie has an unobstructed view probably won't get you too much glory ... unless you're still a squirt or a pee wee where the lack of size and skill is still an issue for many goalies.

For forwards to combat today's more elite goalies, players need to get goalies moving with good lateral passing within the offensive zone. Additionally, forwards need to be attacking high-probability scoring areas like "the house" and shoot less from the perimeter. Finally, and maybe most relevant, forwards need to get to the front of the net as much as they can to distract or impair the goalie's vision.


Coach Kevin

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