It’s the off-season. Things have slowed down a bit in regards to news about the Tampa Bay Lightning. Therefore, we’re running a small series where Raw Charge writers break down a random photo in our archives.
There are a lot of technical aspects to goaltending. Practices are often fully dedicated to positioning and technique. Actions are repeated time and time again until they are second nature. With pucks flying at them at speeds up to 95 mph (153 kmh for our Canadian readers) many saves are made simply by the goaltender being in the right position.
As robotic and mechanical as coaches try to make the position, there are still times when plans go to hell and goalies have to rely on reflex, athleticism and pure, dumb luck. On April 7th, Andrei Vasilevskiy relied on all three to stop a puck against the Montreal Canadiens.
While the focus of the photo is on Vasilevskiy’s body contortions and how he’s facing the wrong direction, it has the added bonus of Phillip Danault sprawled out to the side watching as his spectacular attempt at a goal slides away.
How did they get to this frozen moment in time? Let’s review the video:
A shot from the point is deflected to the left of Vasilevskiy. He drifts toward that post knowing that Danault is there to slide the puck in short side. The Canadien forward decides correctly that his best shot at scoring is to go behind the net. Once he does, it’s a race to see if he can stuff the puck in the far side before Vasilevskiy can get his long leg over to cover.
Normally a goaltender in this situation would pivot to their right and hope they can get their skate to the far post before the forward can complete the wraparound. The Lightning netminder went in a different direction. Keeping his back to the far post he extends his back leg to the post and shimmies backwards (with a helpful little shove from Jake Dotchin) getting his heel to the post just in time to deflect the puck away.
Capturing motion and athleticism is a constant challenge for sports photographers. Jean Yves Ahern executes it perfectly with this photo.