Practice does not make perfect for an NHL goaltender. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Most NHL practices are far from perfect for goalies, and that can be a problem. In fact, a good chunk of practice can be counterproductive to good goaltending, leaving the goalie facing situations that can create bad habits.
It is the separate sessions with the goalie coach, before and after practice, that are important.
If that sounds like a stretch, consider the fact that a large portion of NHL practice time is spent on line rushes which are only occasionally defended, often in the loosest sense of that term. The result is wave after wave of players skating in with passing options and plenty of time to dish or hold and shoot from close range.
In practice, shooters repeatedly get time and space to shoot from spots, and in situations, they might be lucky to get once or twice a season. These opportunities come without the sense of urgency associated with the backchecking pressure of a game.
It can become tempting for a goaltender to cheat in practice. In many ways, practice resembles summer shinny sessions, which many NHL goalies avoid because the only way to consistently make saves in them is to play differently than they would during a regular season.
"If guys are coming in and taking that extra two seconds to shoot and pick that corner on you, you just have to realize in a game situation they won't get that time, so you should still trust your instincts," New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said late last season. "But it is tough, especially when you play deep like me and you give up a goal because you didn't cover enough, to still stick with your structure and not start challenging. But that's the challenge."