Thomas

 

Now that we’re three solid weeks into the NHL season, I’ve been able to re-affirm a number of trends I’ve witnessed and better understand another puck-stopping dynamic that separate a pro goalie from an elite goalie. Today’s lesson should go a long way in acting as a theoretical guide for what I’ve learned and truly help you make better fantasy decisions with your own goaltenders. It will also teach you how the brilliant Tim Thomas shatters this dynamic to the point he’s once again the best goalie in the NHL.

 

FANTASY MAILBAG: NOVEMBER 1

 

The economy of movement, it seems, is more important to the success of a pro goalie than ever before. I watch a goalie like Michal Neuvirth, who is just a rookie, and then I look at a goalie like Craig Anderson. Clearly, both are tremendous athletes and have an excellent ability to stop the puck in their own unique way.

 

Neuvirth, who went 7-3-0 with a 2.15 goals against average and .926 save percentage, was so successful in October due in large part to his ability to minimize his movements in an economical way. He rarely got caught over-committing or over amplifying his footwork. He was rarely caught diving or lunging or losing his balance in an awkward manner. He made saves by getting the center of his chest behind pucks, staying upright and keeping his body language very quiet, calm and composed.

 

This minimalistic approach to playing the position not only looks much more visually appealing from my scouting perspective, but if you look goaltending as a whole from a tactical standpoint in October, it was very successful. And there were a multitude of examples of this playing out within games and goalies over the past few weeks.

 

Anderson went 3-4-0 with a 3.15 goals against average and .907 save percentage in October and struggled partially because he doesn’t rely on solid fundamentals, technique or positioning. He’s a “read and react” goalie that does whatever it takes to stop the puck. He dives, scrambles and tries to get his body behind the puck in a less-efficient manner compared to a goalie like Neuvirth. Is it effective? Sure. Is it great to watch a goalie work extremely hard and thrive on his focus and energy? Absolutely. But the position is all about precision and consistency. In my opinion, I don’t see much efficiency in Anderson’s game. It works, but it does not equal an economy of movement. And now he’s injured for an undetermined amount of time.

 

Answer this - what makes Dwayne Roloson so successful at his age? Simply put, he works extremely hard at moving only as much as he needs to. He works with his goalie coach, Sudsy Maharaj, on this aspect of playing the position more than most and it has paid dividends this season. Niklas Backstrom and Carey Price are two other perfect examples of this as well.

 

Devan Dubnyk, who has now officially won the battle for the backup position in Edmonton with the announcement that Jeff Deslauriers has been waived, was another example of the economy of movement within the course of a single game. Read my scouting report on his first start of the season last week in a 3-2 shootout loss against Columbus.

 

Despite the loss, this dynamic of economical movement played out perfectly for him and ultimately helped him with the battle over JDD. In that game against Columbus, Dubnyk was all over the place, coughing up juicy rebounds and lacking any kind of composure. But as the game went along, he got into a groove and his entire technique looked refined by the time the third period rolled around. It was great to watch and a perfect example of why patience is truly a virtue when it comes to goaltending.

 

Ultimately, these few examples prove that less is more for goalies. This stresses, in my opinion, the importance of conserving energy, sealing holes and staying patient. That’s what it takes to make the timely save and play well beyond your forties. And when I spoke to Mathieu Garon on Saturday night after the Avalanche mopped the floor with Steve Mason, I asked him what he thought was the most vital key to stopping breakaways in today’s NHL.

 

“You just want to be patient and force the shooter to make the first move,” he said. “That’s where you really become successful. But if you go down on your knees too quick, you will be in trouble. So you always want to let the shooter make the first move.”

 

This economy of movement dynamic truly speaks volumes on whether or not your fantasy goalies are starting to struggle. When the amount of overall movement increases, a goalie is more prone to getting caught out of position, giving up rebounds, over-committing on their angles and making hasty and incorrect decisions. When the amount of movement seems to decrease, they are displaying patience, letting the puck hit them, absorbing more shots and conserving energy.

 

This is why, regardless of whether it is pulled off successfully or not, I’m never a fan of the poke check. It is a move born out of desperation that causes way too much movement and forces a goalie to act instead of react. There are times when it works, but even if it does, look at how much energy is exerted, where they end up on the ice after the poke check is made, and how long it takes them to recover and get back into their normal stance.

 

Only rarely in the past two decades has a goalie thrived and excelled with an increase of movement. When I mentioned Thomas in the opening paragraph, it was because he shatters this dynamic. There’s nothing economical about his movements and he’s clearly not worried about being technically sound. He simply does whatever it takes to stop the puck. At this stage in his career, Thomas is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He’s the complete opposite of everything a pro goalie is taught. He’s the anti-goalie – the one that does what all other goalies try not to do. So what puck-stopping traits does he possess that others don’t?

 

 

 

It literally comes down to the power of the mind. While 90% of goalies, especially the less experienced ones, are thinking about proper execution and perfect technique, Thomas’ only concern is getting a pad or a part of his body behind the puck. Combined with an insane energy level and work ethic, he simply finds a way to get the job done. He is at a point in his life when looks, potential and future are tossed out the window. He’s rolling down the goalie highway with the tunes on full blast and not a worry in the world. He always has a smile on his face and there’s no visible difference in his work ethic from a practice to a game.

 

In conclusion, this is a lesson that many “technically sound” or “elite skilled” goalies need to learn when they are struggling. And right now, that screams Marc-Andre Fleury. Everyone is wondering why he’s struggling, but to me, the issues are not hard to understand. Fleury, who is 1-5-0 with a 3.35 goals against average and .863 save percentage, is simply not able to get into a rhythm because he can’t abandon his traditional “technique-first” mentality and put forth the effort needed to simply win a game.

 

Because Brent Johnson is playing out of his mind, going 5-0-1 with a 1.16 goals against average and .960 save percentage, Fleury is not getting the consistent minutes. Therefore he goes from playing a game, suffering a loss, then going right back to the bench. It has damaged his confidence and blocked any opportunity for Fleury to get into a rhythm. The severe difference in statistics and performance also lends a hand to Johnson getting more starts, which makes things even tougher for Fleury.

 

In my opinion, Fleury’s struggles will continue until he realizes that he has to abandon his comfortable mental approach to stopping the puck. He needs to channel his inner Tim Thomas and do whatever it takes, however it looks, to stop the puck. All he needs is a single win to reverse the momentum. But he hasn’t done it yet. And I don’t know what Gilles Meloche is doing to try and stop the bleeding, but to me it’s simply a matter of hitting the ice like a crazy beast and channeling an excessive amount of mental and physical energy on winning a hockey game. Fleury needs to lay it all on the line, get the two points and move on.

 

So, at the end of today’s lesson, what does this all mean? Aside from the obvious tangible aspects of minimal movement as opposed to Thomas’ ability to shatter that dynamic with his excessive movement style, what does his success teach us about taking all form and functionality of goaltending and tossing it aside?

 

It’s simple. For goaltending at the professional level, it is always mind over matter.

 


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Comments (25)add comment

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
re: minimal movement Hey Mike,

I was wondering the same thing. Another aspect is length of playing career. From what Justin wrote about Roloson, it seems like he saying that the move everything to block a puck type of goalies have a shorter playing career. Does that mean their play will decline quickly? ie. get 40 wins one season and then quickly decline to 30 by the next and be out of the league within 2 more. It seems Hasak flamed bright but not for very long while Brodeur as been a slow burn forever.
November 02, 2010
Votes: +0

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
Minimal Movement Justin:
great article. Now a followup...can you take this minimal movement view and apply it to injuries? Are the move everything and anything to get the puck guys hurt more often or more injury prone or miss more games?
November 02, 2010
Votes: +0

chip from pa. said:

edgeman
He writes for the core fan! I think it's refreshing that he writes for the core fan instead of the casual one.
That's what ESPN is for.I dislike the way they talk down to the knowledgible fan and
consistently fail to go in depth to get more ratings.
The writers on this site asume you have some decent working knowledge of hockey because that's who the fanbase here is!So thanks for going deeper inside the game and
writing articles you don't get anywhere else!
Next time i want a golden nugget like "draft Ovy,he's pretty good!"i'll go to the other guys.For articles like this one i'll continue to come here!
November 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Hey Repent Tokyo You are hardly a weak FH GM who doesn't understand what he is actually reading. So take yourself off the insulted list - there was no insult or aim intended. My point was that there is a lot of fantasy worthy information in Justin's stuff, but I can see where a newbie or someone who isn't very experienced would not reap much from his articles.

We all process information differently, I have found that I have come to a place where I can take Justin's stuff in and have it make sense to me in terms of goalie decisions (I will admit I haven't always been there) whether it's drafting them, trading them or picking them up off FA. So for some of us at least, I think his articles are truly fantasy relevant. For me, he simply puts me onto good buys. I am currently sitting on Turco, Thomas, Neuvirth and Bobrovsky in a 1 year 14 team league that has been around for quite a while and there is some savvy in the league. I did not draft a goalie until round 5 or 6. I don't get to this set-up without Justin's articles and the Guild, of that I am sure.

The season is about 12% done and a lot of hard goalie projections are pretty much out the window - so I am not sure where the alternative to Justin's approach is going to be any better in getting results.
November 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeff said:

number54
I would not recommend stats here... Being a graduate student in experimental psychology, I deal with statistics much more frequently than most people care to (more frequently than I even care to, TBH). In fact, in many ways this makes interpreting statistics a very mundane and simple thing for me to do.

Furthermore, In the context of this particular article, I'm not even sure how an accurate statistical analysis COULD be conducted. Maybe if Dobber made Justin count the number of save-related movements each goalie made in each game for a week and plot them as a function of save percentage for the week, we'd get a more accurate picture of how movement economy is related to performance. Personally, Justin, I would like to applaud you for making such a strong case in the absence of "hard" data on the subject; the fact that you related your interpretation of play style with performance at all should be grounds enough for some praise.

I think the point that posters seem to have overlooked thus far is that not every subject is amenable to efficient and accurate statistical treatment. Unless any of you would sit and count save-related movements for a week before writing an article about them, I suggest you consider that some statistics in fantasy sports just cannot be produced -- not for lack of effort, but for lack of data.

You could ask that Justin only produce articles in content areas that are amenable to statistical analysis, but at the cost of a purported expert opinion. So, to the extent that you would consider Justin to be an expert on goal-tending, you ought to take his opinion seriously, rather than asking him for the statistics that come with it. To wit:
If Wayne Gretzky were to call some kid a phenom, I wouldn't ask him to prove it; I'd just DRAFT the kid.

Justin: I understand that you've got to cater to the masses, but PLEASE, continue to write like an expert because that's why people read your articles. Like you said before, if they want the stats behind it, they can dig 'em up themselves.
November 02, 2010
Votes: -1

lanky522 said:

lanky522
... I still like my position best...

If you don't like an article or author, don't read it... There's some content and areas of the forums I don't generally frequent because they don't suit my needs/interests. Obviously many people like the goalie guild stuff, others don't... As long as there's an audience for every piece of content that can be found here, I've got no problem with it (it's no skin off my back to pass over things that don't suit me)...

That being said... if you're a vegetarian, would you go to a restaurant and order filet mignon and then complain when your meal comes and there's meat on your plate? Justin has always had this style of analysis here on dobberhockey, if it's not your preference, there's countless other things on the menu to choose from. That's why this site is great... Even freaky deeky vegetarians (figuratively speaking) can find something that suits them and can come away stuffed full (of knowledge and insight lol). smilies/wink.gif

Dammit... I made myself hungry... What I'd give for a filet smoothed in crab imperial right now... smilies/tongue.gif
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
... Justin,

I love your work and contributions to this site. I have learned so much about goal-tending from you that it has made me a better judge of what it takes to succeed at the position. I find your articles interesting from both a fantasy-hockey perspective and a real-life hockey perspective.

As for Tokyo Repent, I understand what he is saying, but completely disagree. And that is the benefit of this site. Many different opinions, and it is ok to disagree. I'm sure you know this, but you can't please all the readers on this site all the time. No one can. Dobber knows that for sure. I've personally been critical of both him and Angus at times, but generally speaking I value their insight immensely and am more than willing to commend them more often than not. Keep up the great work and don't let the criticism get you down.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
thanks for the insult shoeless really not something i expected from a member who has been on the site as long as I have.

i have to say I am shocked that the knee-jerk reaction to a difference of opinion here has been insults, or questions of my intelligence. justin has been very gracious about re-stating his position, which I appreciate, but some of the other comments here, wow.

thanks to anyone who understands how to have a constructive discourse who commented here,
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Fantasy worth Justin's articles not fantasy worthy? Perhaps for a weak FH GM who doesn't understand what he is actually reading.
November 01, 2010
Votes: -1

Karl Janssen said:

Leetch#2
... Justin,
Love the School of Block.
2 years ago I lost Brodeur to major injury and thanks to your article picked up Rinne which led me to 2nd place finish in my league.
Last year Steve Mason was a disaster and thanks to your insight picked up Rask which saved my season.
This year I've got my eye on Lindback thanks to your excellent write up.
Our league has very limited free agent pickups allowed ( only 5 per year) and it's so helpful to read detailed analysis on why a goalie is just going through a hot streak or primed for a breakout season as I can't afford to burn my picks on the"hot goalie of the week".
Your article is one of the few things that I look forward to on a Monday smilies/smiley.gif
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... I appreciate the kind words and support...but there is a lot of legitimacy to what Repent Tokyo said. It is good to get some feedback on the stastical and more traditional fantasy aspects of covering goaltending for you all. I took his comment a little too personally and I apologized for that.

I've discussed it with Dobber and he is a wizard at this stuff, and this is his site so I am going to add some elements to all future School of Block articles that will help bring some good fantasy-oriented elements to the site every monday for goaltending without losing any of what you have been getting from me!! Cheers and thanks for reading!!
November 01, 2010
Votes: +1

Luffy D Monkey said:

Luffy D Monkey
Great work Awesome article, keep it coming, don't change a thing just because somebody feels like trolling the board.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Karbinkopy said:

Karbinkopy
School of Block is great Hey Justin,

Just had to say I love your stuff. Between here on Dobber and your Goalie Guild site you've help me develop the goaltending on my keeper fantasy team to the extreme. My league is extremely deep, 22 players, 43 farm, and when I picked up my team 3 1/2 years ago, my goalies consisted on Brodeur, Tellqvist, Hedberg and Reto Berra (betcha 2% of poolies know who he is). With your wisdom, one trade (Turco) and a whole lot of waiver wire pickups I now have a dominant force of Brodeur, Turco, Anderson, Elliot, Lindback, Holtby, Tokarski, Johnson, Dekanich, Bachman, and Cheverie. Tokarski is the only goalie I've drafted, and I think my goal tending drawer will be pretty stocked for years to come. Add to it that I won my league last year due to my powerful goaltending and I have to thank you doubly. Keep up the great work.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
Leafs2010: Apparently about as hard as you not being able to just...you know...not slag a comment that you don't agree with as 'stupid'.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Leafs2010 said:

Leafs2010
... Justin please disregard that stupid comment. Please don't dumb down your articles to cater to the odd person who can't interpret non-statistical analysis. I read your articles and I find you provide a lot of fantasy advice. It's just not spoon fed to us; it's about reading between the lines. And how hard is it if you don't like something to...you know...not click on it and read it?
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Repent,

Nothing wrong with the criticism. It did bother me, but you have been reading my stuff for a while, have commented on them as well. So I will look at this good advice - which it is - and do my best to bring in more fantasy and statistical elements. Because you are right, I should strive to cater to the readers. I am just confident that the more you understand the position, the more you can apply it to your own fantasy skills and be an even stronger manager than ever before!! That is my aim, to bring the elements that are non-statistical to light so that you can use it as a tool to enhance your own managerial skills!! I apologize for coming off so harsh, that was not my intent. And I appreciate your comments and criticisms. I rarely hear it, so when I do of course I will take it a bit personally =) Thanks!!
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
... with all due respect Justin, we are your readers. I am sorry if you find it 'ridiculous' that I would have an opinion about content on a site that I enjoy and that I have supported financially for years.

As for your dismissal of what you term "fantasy coverage" - I would think it is perfectly obvious what "fantasy coverage" is to me - the quality analysis provided by Dobber, Angus, Ma and many of the other participants on this site. Even the forums. Are you insinuating that all "fantasy coverage" is the mindless regurgitation of stats and figures, some kind of 'grunt work' as you put it? Because if so, that seems like a huge insult to everyone on this site who have taken fantasy analysis to an incredibly high level rarely seen anywhere else.

I do enjoy the insights that you provide in the ramblings, but I don't feel that the long form articles read as anything more than goaltending-specific hockey blog posts, and they stand out from the other content in that respect.

I am sorry that you seem to have taken this so personally. I am a professional writer - I put out five to ten thousand words a week for clients - and I deal with comments and edits on a daily basis. If you perceive a comment about your work as an insult, then I would suggest you need to take a step back and realize that this is simply my opinion, posted on a website where discussion of different viewpoints is encouraged and celebrated. Your dismissal of opinions that do not agree with your own comes across as arrogant.
November 01, 2010
Votes: -1

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Goalies are difficult to judge future performance, and you need that to succeed with your goaltender in fantasy hockey. This gives us a little bit of insight. It makes you think, more than most fantasy articles, which goes a little against the grain where the columnist does the thinking for you, but that's fine for some people.

I will leave you with this - I had an email on Friday from a reader who said...let me dig it up and copy paste it...

"thank you for (having on your site) the goalie guild, that guy is amazing…and really helpful. Found Lindback that way. Can’t believe he is not a pro scout."

It helped one owner pick up a goalie who helped him. And as long as that happens, this feature rocks. And nothing anyone can say will effectively dispute that.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Repent Tokyo and John Hillburg,

You are right - they are only tangentially related to fantasy hockey. But when it comes to goaltending, what is "fantasy coverage" to you?? What do you want to see from me? A recap of statistics from every single goalie in the last week? A schedule of which goalie plays the most in the upcoming week? Who is on a winning or shutout streak? How much you should give up for Tim Thomas?

Uhhh....no thanks. Not from me. You can find that casual, easy, boring, obvious coverage ANYWHERE. Just open up NHL.com, click on goalie stats, and everything you need is right there. Do that grunt work yourself. That's not why I'm here.

If you want to become a better fantasy manager with goaltending, you need to UNDERSTAND THE POSITION. You need to know what makes a goalie tick. And what makes them tick is 90% mental. You need to understand trends. You need to understand what to watch for when your goalie is beginning to struggle or beginning to play at his best. And there's a reason why Dobber, Angus and everyone else on this staff continues to allow me to post School of Block on here. Because it helps. And it is an asset.

None of my articles are "fantasy related" ... that's something I've known since the beginning. I do this on purpose!!! Why is that a good thing? Because you can get this kind of analysis anywhere else. Goaltending is the most valuable aspect of a good fantasy team. The web is diluted with people who have never played the position and know nothing about goalies going crazy breaking down stats and trying to decipher what goalie is going to do what next. But they are all COMPLETELY missing the point of what goaltending is all about. I work extremely hard to bring the angles of goaltending to this website that you will NOT find anywhere else on a fantasy website. And believe me, the content is valuable and has helped thousands of visitors on here for three years. My School of Block forums is another valuable tool for a number of managers, same with my contributions to the prospects guide and the fantasy guide.

School of Block will actually TEACH you about the goaltending position. Everyone else who tries to cover goaltending from a fantasy perspective merely spits out stats that anyone can find.

Excuse me for taking goaltending analysis for Dobber Nation to a higher level then the norm. If you can't find the value in it, don't read it. But that's an offensive comment, considing I've been writing on here for three years.

I'm not going to water down my analysis. I'm not going to write stuff that you can find on other websites or you can find by doing a little bit of leg work. Onward and upward.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +2

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
... my issue is that these articles read more like hockey analysis, rather than fantasy hockey analysis. there are many other places i can go to read about hockey analysis - many other blogs, mainstream sites, etc - but dobber is where i come for fantasy, and i feel that general content in this vein dilutes the site.

November 01, 2010
Votes: -3

lanky522 said:

lanky522
Re: no offense to the author Repent Tokyo wrote:
... I have always felt that these articles are really out of place on Dobberhockey.com. They are only tangentially related to fantasy, and they read like blog posts from an entirely different website.


I can see where you're coming from, and on occasion... I'll let a Goldie article slide here or there... but I think that they are just one aspect of the site that makes it so good.

There is a VAST array of information related to fantasy on this site (yes these article are related to fantasy - only indirectly). All of the information is there for you to use, or not use... at your own discretion.

I think that with goaltenders, having this insight is invaluable... because in many cases, it's the difference between a goalie losing his job and and a goalie winning a job.

Look no further than Theodore. The casual poolie might wonder why Theodore had problems finding a job this summer after looking at his stat-line from the last few seasons in D.C. Unless you actually are able to frequently watch EVERY goalie all around the league (VERY few poolies can or do), it's difficult to know who is legit and who is playing over their head.

These articles give some insight into that. Sure it's more cerebral than a lot of the info on the site, but again... it's just there for the taking (or the leaving) like everything else.

If it's not your style, that's fine... but I'm actually quite positive that each person visits and uses this site in their own way. In this regard, having more features or more content is just fine with me... AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T BECOME CUMBERSOME AND DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE (which it hasn't). smilies/cool.gif
November 01, 2010
Votes: +3

Chandan Singh said:

csingh
Article I completely disagree. I find Goldies articles pure fantasy gold. Because of reading his articles for the past few years ima beast when it comes to drafting my goalies. He even mentioned Fluerys type of play last year. I had him drafted, maybe thats why I paid more more attention to it and refused to draft him this year. And its saved my early season for sure.

I find reading his articles, although wont pay instant dividends on your fantasy group makes you a better goalie manager over time. I went from arbitrarily picking up a goalie that I would assume is going to be hot this year based on their team, to picking up sound goalies who are i know are skilled and have the mental "compete level" to bring it regardless of how the team plays.

Aside from the regular Dobber and Angus, I think the most valuable contributor to this site Goldie and a close second Ryan Ma.

Keep up the amazing work Goldie!
November 01, 2010
Votes: +2

John Hillburg said:

CommittedToTheIndian
... Repent, I completely agree with your main point. The information rarely is actionable from a fantasy standpoint. On the other hand, anyone who doesn't like it doesn't have to read it. I usually skim it for names of goalies I own and read only what he has to say about them.
November 01, 2010
Votes: -3

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Repent Tokyo, they are like blog posts from a different website, because the Goalie Guild posts these on his own website lol.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +1

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
no offense to the author but I have always felt that these articles are really out of place on Dobberhockey.com. They are only tangentially related to fantasy, and they read like blog posts from an entirely different website.
November 01, 2010
Votes: +0
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