The old book on Henrik Lundqvist was always to shoot high glove side. It was Hank’s biggest weakness, and was exploited a few years ago by Sergei Fedorov when the Capitals completed their comeback in the playoffs after being down 3-1 in the series. Fedorov’s goal was high glove side from a decent angle, and was a shot that a lot of people would have liked to see stopped.
It seems Washington Capitals goalie coach Olaf Kolzig thinks that this might still be his weakness. Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington has the scoop from his interview with Kolzig:
“You look at him and you think, ‘Geez, he plays pretty deep, you should be able to pick his pocket,’” Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig said. “But his angles are so good and he plays so wide. You’ve got to beat him with a good shot, a good high shot.”
Gormley later notes that two of Saturday’s goals against Lundqvist came on high shots. To be fair, that’s a truthful statement, albeit skewed a bit. Alex Ovechkin’s goal was a case of Hank flubbing the shot. He was there, the puck didn’t beat him. He just had it bounce off of him. In fact. Hank saw the shot the whole way. It was a weak goal (caused by a turnover, but weak nonetheless). Niklas Backstrom’s goal was a blown coverage one-timer from the slot. Yes, that shot was high too.
But if you look at Kolzig’s statement, it doesn’t necessarily say anything. “You’ve got to beat him with a good shot.” Thanks Olie. You have to beat any goaltender in the league with a good shot. Well, that or talking about the universe prior to shooting.
Besides, how many times has Hank been cleanly beat on a high shot? It’s what Kolzig said after that is what the Caps really need to be doing.
“Ovi’s goal in Game 2 there was traffic. [Lundqvist] didn’t see it and he picked it up late and those are the ways that you’re going to beat this guy. Usually, when goalies are playing this well, if they see it, they’re stopping it.”
That’s what the Caps need to do to “exploit a weakness.” If Lundqvist sees the shot, he will stop it 999 out of 1,000 times (of course that one time was on Saturday). The Caps have been doing a good job at getting people in front of the net, and also using Rangers shot blockers as screens.
As important as it is to get good shots on net on Lundqvist, the way Backstrom beat him in Game Four and John Carlson beat him in Game Three, getting traffic in front of him is equally important.
So, the Capitals have deduced that you need to get a good quality shot on Hank, or need to get traffic in front of the net. This is just pure hockey genius.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic. It’s Hockey 101.