I recently read Kevin Woodley's article on NHL.com about Buffalo Sabres goalie Chad Johnson and his relationship with new goalie coach, Andrew Allen. One of Johnson's comments really stood out to me:
"Over the years, I have learned this is my job and I need to stand up and say, 'I know you're the goalie coach but …,'" Johnson said, pausing. "I just wish I had in the past said, 'I am not doing this,' maybe taken a little more responsibility on my own."
Woodley's article took me back a few years ago when I met a recently retired professional goalie while working at a summer camp in Ottawa. I never watched this goalie play because most of his career was spent in Europe. Naturally, I was curious, so I asked what type of goalie he was.
"I was whatever I had to be. If a shot was low, then I went down. If I had to stay up, I stayed up. Sometimes I played deep in the crease and other times I was aggressive. I just reacted to the play."
His answer still resonates with me today because of how simple goaltending can be.
Today, goalies have more resources at their disposal than ever before. There's a plethora of video, articles, books, and websites dedicated to pretty much any topic you can think of related to goaltending. The general feeling is that the more information you can gather, the more you will be prepared to make the "right" decisions during games.
However, too much information can become counter productive. At some point, too much information can cloud your judgement and take away your focus from what's important.
It's not about how much information you can gather. Rather, it's about understanding the information you have, building a knowledge base around what makes sense for you, and having the confidence to apply it. When you hear goalies say, "I've got to play my game", that's what they're referring to - focusing on what they need to do to be successful.
At the end of the day, learn how to read the game and apply what you know how to do with full confidence. That might mean using a compact butterfly or reacting with your hands. It might mean sitting back to give yourself a chance on a backdoor play or challenging a shooter.
Keep your focus on what's important - playing your game.