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A guide to better playoff performance

Playoffs! 

And that is the time when every play, every mistake, every save & every goal comes under the spotlight and becomes especially important. 

It is also the time when everyone elevates their game, the speed & physicality goes up and so, as this happens, YOUR PLAY MUST elevate to match the game play. 

A series can change on a play, on a goal, and you don’t want to be giving up a goal that is going to change momentum in a game that may change momentum in a series because you are still stuck in regular season mentality. 

So how can you, the goaltender, arguably the most important player on the ice, deal with the amplified pace of the playoffs? 

Here are some things you should focus on doing (or not) prior to your first game: 

  1. Don’t try making changes to your game – trust that whatever got you there will see you through to the end 

  1. Once you know who your opposition will be, then talk to your coach (head or goaltending) or draw from your own experience or game video to get a sense of their game plan (dump & chase; controlled zone entries; attempt to score off the rush; set up plays from low zone cycling; power play set up etc.) and which players are their top scorers & playmakers 

Now let us look at some things to remember during the game & the series.  These are very basic but, those foundational skills & elements are what you need to keep reminding yourself to do every period, every game, every series. 

  1. Position/re-positioning on time – get your body in front of pucks & control rebounds 

  1. Intensify your shot tracking – finding pucks will get more difficult because of more traffic to the net front  

  1. Hold your feet as long as possible – the speed of puck movement will be accelerated so you can’t spend your game sliding around the crease or locked into an RVH 

  1. Communicate with your defense – help them do a better job by alerting them to trailing opposition forwards, uncovered players in the slot or pass options & open lanes for a quick zone exit & attack 

  1. Get your mind off the game – a playoff series is mentally draining so you need distractions or diversions to keep you mind off the game when away from the rink 

  1. Keep your cool – playoffs are an emotional time, but you don’t do yourself or your team any good by becoming emotional 

  1. Be a bounce back goaltender – your ability to bounce back & refocus after a bad goal or bad game is much more important in the playoffs 

  1. Move on from a loss – take learnings from a loss, but don’t dwell on it.  It is done & can’t be changed 

Trust in yourself & never come away from a game thinking you could have given more.

Put in the Work
 

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