With every NHL team’s training camp come high expectations for some goalies, yet absolutely none for others. Many of the netminders in Colorado’s first day of camp, at a glance, had low expectations to make the club. But after breaking down the ones behind Peter Budaj, there’s much more than meets the eye. This includes Andrew Raycroft, Jason Bacashihua and Peter Delmas. Now Tony Granato has verbally confirmed that Budaj is the No. 1 goalie for over a week, so this column does not analyze his first day of camp – same goes for Tyler Weiman, since I feel he’s going to be a full-time NHL’er in a few seasons.
JASON BACASHIHUA – COLD HARD CASH
Jason was hands down the most impressive goalie on Day 1. His intensity in the crease, work ethic and overall size is very noticeable. Similar to Budaj, he’s a big goalie with great reflexes and agility. Although he plays a small step further back in his crease than most goalies, it’s almost a luxury he can afford. Those big Brian’s pads make him look even wider in net, so from a shooter’s glance he takes up a ton of space. Listed at 5-foot-11 and only 177 pounds, he’s probably closer to at least 185 pounds. I could be wrong, but he looks much bigger than what is currently listed…and he might have the biggest pants in the league.
Jason has very wide, yet sharp movements in his crease. Because of his overall size, he puts a ton of weight on his skates, so his balance and stability is bar-none (similar to Manny Legace and Nicklas Backstrom). He’s tough to push around and nearly impossible to get off his angle. Goalie coach Jeff Hackett made numerous positive comments in response to Jason’s consistent saves and had only a few pointers about general glove positioning.
Take a look at this photo
and it should remind you of Backstrom – a big, wide stance and a butterfly with no visible holes. This shot went off his right shoulder, so that’s why it looks like his elbows are flared out. But for all of the noticeably good things in his game, there’s one thing that he needs to work on and that would be straightening his back and sitting more upright when in the butterfly.
Jason was prone to sitting back on his butt a number of times, causing him to get beat over or underneath the shoulders. When he’s caught sitting back like that, Jason is forced to flare out his elbows, removing the “solid wall” butterfly stance and opening up holes under his arms. As you can see in this photo
he’s beaten just under, or just outside of his blocker. Either way, he’s forced to extend that elbow out, because he’s a step or two deeper in his crease (right on the line) than most goalies should be. So even though his size is excellent, the depth at which he plays in his crease will still cause shooters to open him up if he continues to drop down without straightening his back.
Overall, Bacashihua had a great first day and he really stood out to the fans. He’s much more technically sound than his days with St. Louis and it’s going to be a great battle between him and Tyler Weiman for the starting job in Lake Erie. This final shot of Jason (http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee320/TheHockeyGuild/Avs%20Training%20Camp%202008/bacashihua06.jpg) really shows the mental focus and solid positioning he had – eyes are right on the puck, he’s leading with the goalie stick.
PETER DELMAS – POISED TO SUCCEED
Delmas’ first day of training camp was also a huge success. Right away you will notice that he has an extremely tight butterfly, almost too tight. Shots that beat him were almost always off his left or right hip, but no pucks got underneath or through him. Check out this picture of his butterfly
and you’ll see what I mean. Those extremely loose RBK pads (they drive me insane) completely overlap each other by a good 3-4 inches.
Delmas is a smaller goalie, but almost completely compensates for his lack of size with tremendous upper-body positioning. If you look at his shoulders in this photo
they are perfectly square. He stays very upright in his butterfly position, forcing shooters to aim off to his sides instead of trying to go upstairs. This photo also
shows Peter’s great “tight” butterfly and his very straight back. See how he looks much “taller” in the butterfly than Bacashihua?
Delmas’ foot-speed is incredible, so I truly think he’s poised to succeed in the NHL. That’s honestly what comes with QMJHL experience, as he has a number of good athletic traits. But one thing he will have to work on is bulking up and ultimately taking up more space with his gloves. That comes with time and experience at the professional level and doesn’t become much of a hurdle or setback to his overall development. At the tender age of 18, Colorado is smart to hang on to his rights and let him continue to improve. By age 21, he’ll be bigger and more experienced and could go through a very smooth transition to the NHL.
As you can see from the main picture at the top of the article of Delmas and Hackett, the biggest adjustment to Delmas’ positioning was his gloves. It needs to be off to the side more as opposed to so tight into his body. Not away from his hips, just not tucked in so tight. A tight glove side is only necessary when shots are directly off your hip, but constantly being in that spot will cause him to get beat high glove side. As you can see, Hackett is explaining this to Delmas and showing a glove-hand that is NOT palm-up, but rather cocked to the side and ready to go.
When Delmas got back in the net, the adjustment he made was significant. Not only was Delmas making better glove saves, but his focus on the puck was exceptional. You can see from these final two photos
that with a little more mobility on his glove side, he’s able to get it moving much quicker and it takes away that small space on the far post.
ANDREW RAYCROFT – THE RAZOR IS RUSTY
And finally I have a breakdown of Raycroft. It’s hard to paint a good picture here. Unless he made a conscious decision to save energy for the final two days of Training Camp, Raycroft simply struggled. No real focused effort, no consistency and no intensity. He only used his butterfly about 25% of the time and it came at the tail end of the first 60-minute training session.
This first photo
is of a routine shot up high that Raycroft chose not to butterfly on. You would think since he has so much to prove to his teammates, the Avalanche and himself, that he would be putting a considerable amount of effort into his play from the first shot to the last one.
This second photo
is more of the same. He was resting on the posts, not at the top of his crease in a focused mode. He was talking a lot to coaches that were passing pucks from out of each corner, as he seemed frustrated by players coming in and shooting hard up high on him.
On breakaways, Raycroft couldn’t stay square for more than a couple of shots at a time. Here is the best photo I took all day
Just look at Raycroft’s body and the angle of his upper body. He’s leaning so far to his left that it almost looks like he’s going to fall over. He can’t make solid 5-hole saves and put the puck into either corner with that type of balance. Sure, he’s making the save (look closely at his 5-hole), but that’s not the type of body control or language he wants to have on a play like that.
On a number of plays that developed to his right, his angles were slightly off and he was not at the top of his crease. Check out this shot of Darcy Tucker coming in on Raycroft
Again, his body is angled off to his left and his shoulders aren’t square. The right pad isn’t flush on the ice and that’s why he got beat five-hole.
There’s also another visible defect. Check out another shot of Tucker on Raycroft
His back is so hunched over (almost a 45-degree angle) that he was totally vulnerable up high. Ironically, Tucker is slipping a soft shot 5-hole on the backhand and ultimately scoring…too bad I couldn’t snap a picture of Raycroft’s reaction.
Hopefully this column was insightful and helped put together a number of different topics I’ve discussed over the last year using some photos snapped during Training Camp. Again, remember that I leave the stats and math to you, the fantasy fanatic, and to Dobber. I simply focus on the actual position and how goalies are dealing with the mental aspects. Please feel free to click the link below to check out all of the photos I took, including great shots of Sakic, Svatos, Smyth, Parker and Laperriere!
Goldman's insight on goaltenders can also be found in the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide - on sale now!