Goaltender as Quarterback

Within the defensive zone no one should know more about what is going on then the goaltender. I say, “should” because that is what ideally should be occurring. However, many a coach has missed out on developing his goaltender as quarterback. Many factors provide the goaltender with the ability to control his team in the defensive zone.

  1. Just like a quarterback the goaltender is on the ice the whole game and can see trends developing, patterns in play and see what his teammates are missing.
  2. He can see the whole ice at once by standing in the defensive zone where he can watch the play develop from the far end

To best develop the goaltender as quarterbacking the coach and goaltender have to work together.

The coach should be sure the goaltender understands what the team is trying to achieve on their breakout, are they setting up behind the net?

Are they focused on a quick breakout?

Do the defensemen have a counter option which allows them to carry or pass back to the opposite corner if they are pressed?

On penalty killing does the team use a box formation, a collapsed box or diamond?

Does the penalty killing unit press the puckcarrier or just prevent him from moving to the net?

Does the penalty killing unit have the ability to prevent the opposing team from sneaking into the slot on a backdoor play?

On defensive zone face-offs does the team always pull back the puck or do they direct it to the boards?

How does the opposing team play it? Do they pull back, bat ahead or go to the boards?

Once the goaltender understands the systems and defensive zone plays he can assist his teammates in seeing options sooner. He can make them more quickly aware of forecheckers coming in on his defensemen. He can also watch who is open on face-offs. He can warn defenseman of opposing forwards slipping into the slot.

Does the goaltender and defense share the same approach on attacking 2-on-1’s or 1-on-1’s?

Does the defense play the middle taking away the pass across?

Does the defense edge the shooter wide thereby allowing the goaltender to move out further and cut off the angle?

Is the defense trained to take away the potential rebounder on shots allowing the goaltender to play the shooter?

Does the defense know the angles so as to make sure they stay out of the shooting lane so the goaltender can see the shot especially on point shots?

Does the defense clear the shooting lane of opposing players who could block his view?

On penalties is it necessary for the goaltender to hit the ice with their stick to make the team aware the penalized player is coming on the ice?

Once a coach insures the goaltender knows what his own team is doing in the defensive zone it will become clearer to him how to better direct his club when the opposing team is on the attack. Once this is embraced the goaltender as the quarterback of his team can be more proactive in helping to lead his team to victory.

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