Save by Bin­ning­ton: Watch Hockey’s Newest Star to Improve Your Goaltender’s Skills

Save by Bin­ning­ton: Watch Hockey’s Newest Star to Improve Your Goaltender’s Skills

No posi­tion in hock­ey can flip a team’s for­tunes as abrupt­ly as a good goal­tender. And there’s no bet­ter exam­ple of this right now than in St. Louis, where a mid-sea­son goalie switch to a 25-year-old rook­ie vault­ed the Blues from the worst record in the NHL to play­ing in their first Stan­ley Cup Final in 49 years.

Jor­dan Binnington’s ascent is a tale of per­se­ver­ance. He toiled for five years in the Blues’ minor league sys­tem, which includ­ed a loan to the Boston Bru­ins’ AHL affil­i­ate after declin­ing to report to the sec­ond-tier ECHL, before he got his shot. His patience has paid off — he’s already one of the franchise’s most pro­lif­ic in the pipes, set­ting a sin­gle-sea­son team mark for post­sea­son wins.

His almost com­i­cal­ly cool demeanor belies a supreme con­fi­dence in net. And while goalies are known for being here today, gone tomor­row”, Bin­ning­ton has so far shown the mak­ings of being a star in the NHL for a long time.

As video analy­sis becomes more and more cru­cial to fos­ter­ing play­er improve­ment at all lev­els of hock­ey, coach­es have noticed its ben­e­fits for goalies espe­cial­ly. Bin­ning­ton can show young net­min­ders many lessons they can apply to their own game.

Mechan­ics

Like the great but­ter­fly goalies, Bin­ning­ton keeps every­thing in tight, shows sound sym­me­try, and makes him­self big in net. When he makes a high­light-reel save, it’s absolute­ly spec­tac­u­lar. But those Sports­Cen­ter Top 10 appear­ances are few and far between, most­ly because of how tech­ni­cal­ly pro­fi­cient he is with his positioning.

Great goalies can be manip­u­la­tive with shoot­ers, set­ting them up to seize on an oppor­tu­ni­ty that actu­al­ly isn’t there. The shooter’s eyes will see the net before they see the puck, and by the time they’ve fired that shot, the open net­ting they found has closed up. Study­ing indi­vid­ual oppo­nents’ ten­den­cies with the puck — which cor­ners they like to pick, where the pass­ing lanes are, how they like to approach the net — can give your goalies a lot of ideas on how to exploit offen­sive play­ers’ best instincts.

Glove Work

Some NHL teams love to attack the glove. Bin­ning­ton has so far been up for the chal­lenge, and in fact the glove may be his best over­all attribute.

Because of grav­i­ty, it’s faster to pull a goalie glove down than raise it up. Take note of the way Bin­ning­ton sets up as he works to cut off angles. From where he places his glove, he won’t have to raise it at all — any­thing above the web­bing is going to sail over the cross­bar. The shoot­er has essen­tial­ly two options here: thread a shot into an open­ing above Binnington’s far shoul­der that’s about the size of a soft­ball, or work to try and beat his right pad.

Care­ful atten­tion to glove place­ment can make all the dif­fer­ence between an unfor­get­table night, and one that’s for­get­table for all the wrong rea­sons. Cre­ate playlists of clips that show­case the good and the bad from every angle, then share them with your goalies.

Play­ing the Puck

For every NHL goalie who shows prowess com­ing out of the net to play the puck (Dal­las’ Ben Bish­op or Calgary’s Mike Smith), there are just as many that would be bet­ter off stay­ing home. If this nifty lit­tle toe drag from Feb­ru­ary is any indi­ca­tion, Bin­ning­ton belongs in the for­mer group.

Obvi­ous­ly the tim­ing has to be right, and being care­less away from the net can have seri­ous con­se­quences. But when done right, the ben­e­fits of this style of play are huge. It dis­rupts the opposition’s forecheck, it can quick­ly gen­er­ate sud­den break­outs, and it saves defense­men from get­ting worn down and beat up. The Blues tout some of the best defen­sive pair­ings in all of hock­ey, so this has been a plus.

It’s ben­e­fi­cial for goalies to study up on oppo­nents’ line change process­es, and see if there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to catch them mid-change. Video review can play a major role here. Take note, too, of how they like to bring the puck into the zone — some­times when the puck rims around the back of the cage, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to skip a quick pass up the ice to a wait­ing winger.