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Analysis: The positioning of Canadiens goaltending prospect Jakub Dobes

Young goalies tend to have the most difficulty being in the right spots. How does Dobes fare in that area?

Jakob Dobes might not be a name you are familiar with. He wasn’t really on my radar until friend and colleague Patrik Bexell and I were talking the other day. At this stage in his career, I have no idea if he has what it takes to make the NHL. I can’t be too tough on the minutia of his technique, but the most important thing for me right now is his instinct.

I’ve heard player scouts talk about how important it is for young players to think the game well. They’ve said that everything else can be fixed or built but if the brain isn’t there, it might never be.

For a goalie I think that’s similar. It’s easier to fix how you hold your glove or the angle of your T-push than simply making the right decision on the right play.

What I love about the play above is that on the two-on-one, Dobes manages to transfer his backward momentum into lateral momentum. He starts off well outside of his crease, controls his gap, and then when the pass is made he turns that into a power slide to his left.

These days a lot of goalie coaches teach that everything goes back to the posts. In some ways that’s good because ultimately pucks have to go in between the posts in order to count as a goal. The trouble with this teaching is that goalies often default to their posts when presented with a max-effort push instead of reading the play and picking a more efficient spot for the save.

Where Dubes was in his crease when the save was made is almost exactly where you would want him to stand if the shot was static. So in other words, he picked the area to make the most efficient save and got there.

His strength clearly leaves something to be desired with the fact that he was practically on his stomach, but that just underlines the point of how well positioned he was that even with his body in a bad place it was still a save.

My advice? Don’t skip on the sit-ups!

On this save there was way too much backward momentum. If the shooter held on to the puck for another half-second, Dobes would have been in his net and completely innefectual at making a save. That being said, he held his edges well, not dropping early. He also read the shot well in order to get the glove there in time.

This save is another prime example of Dobes not defaulting to his post and transferring his backward momentum laterally. Again, he starts way out of his crease, and as he’s skating backward forces the shooter to try to go around him where he throws that momentum to a power slide. His timing for when to make that slide is also very impressive.

The main difference between this play and the first one is that I think he should have defaulted further to his post. The defence was not in a good position to prevent the shooter from getting around Dobes, so it was a big risk challenging the shooter like that instead of going to the post.

If you were in his shoes, would you give up more of the shot in order to be prepared for other eventualities? If the shooter had decided to hold the puck and pull it around more, then Dobes would have had no chance to pivot and seal the post. He would have been forced to fall backward and hope.

On this save, I liked Dobes’s aggression as he challenged the shooter at the top right of his crease (position five in a seven-position system, which is what I tend to teach). Then, when the shooter tried to pull it to his backhand, Dobes came out even more aggressively.

Earlier I spoke about his instincts. With the gap between him and the shooter so tight, any attempt to go around Dobes could have easily been thwarted with a poke check or leg. At first glance, it’s a bit of a gamble, but at that point you can tell that the shooter is committed to a shot, so it’s just Dobes and the shooter.

I love seeing instincts like that. It’s easy to pick apart when the shooter was committed to a shot for a guy like me sitting on a swivel chair and studying it over and over again; more difficult for a goalie to pick up on all of the cues in real-time right in front of him.

I’ve spoken several times already about Dobes coming way out of his crease on rush attempts. Here's an example of him doing it but not being taken by a surprise shot. During the save, you can still see his momentum going back because that’s the direction he was expecting to go, but he’s out far enough to begin with that the momentum he had didn’t give any of the net away.

Now that this article is written hopefully I can finally get Ooby Dooby unstuck from my head. Here’s hoping that’s swift.