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

Prepare your teams for next sea­son by encour­ag­ing them to watch their favorite ath­letes. For goalies, this analy­sis of Jordan Binnington will get them fired up to get back on the ice.

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

Prepare your teams for next sea­son by encour­ag­ing them to watch their favorite ath­letes. For goalies, this analy­sis of Jordan Binnington will get them fired up to get back on the ice.

No posi­tion in hock­ey can flip a team’s for­tunes as abrupt­ly as a good goal­tender. And there’s no bet­ter exam­ple of this 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.