Some goaltenders follow the strategy of staying in the crease and others are more aggressive. It’s all a matter of style, strategy and balance to challenge the shooter and keep the puck from crossing the line. Here’s an overview of what angles mean and the different ways some goaltenders approach them.
As a goaltender, your focus is staying square to potential shots by blocking the angle from wherever the puck is coming from. This can be tricky because it’s you against five other players unless you’re facing a short-handed situation. You must always be tracking the play and the puck. The angle of the shot refers to the imaginary angle formed by two lines starting from the point of the shooter and ending at the vertical pipes.
Using the core of your body, the torso, gives you the biggest advantage against shots. It gives the puck less space to get into the net, especially because the shooter is always ideally aiming for the center of the net, even when the puck sneaks over the crease low, high or to a side. By using your torso as the main block against shots, you decrease a shooter’s angles by your distance away from the net. This is called depth.
According to the Buckley Positioning System, there are four degrees of depth you can play as a goaltender. These are aggressive, base, conservative and defensive. Here’s a great instructional video that shows these levels of depth. Defensive is closest to the net, also known as deep, and is used when the puck is anywhere in the zone behind the net. Conservative is playing within the crease and is used to deter rebound shots, when there’s lateral play and when the play is at the other end of the ice. Base depth is played at the top of the crease and is used most often to block active shots. Aggressive depth is full blown outside of the crease and is used when the puck is shot from the defensive zone or center ice.
It’s not always a good idea to be as aggressive as the goaltenders in this video highlight reel, but it does come in handy occasionally. Most of the time, you’ll want to stay at the base and conservative depths, and only go deep when needed. You might not always be able to prevent a five-hole goal through the legs, but you’ll cut down those angles as much as you can and give your team its best defense in net.
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