VANCOUVER -- From revised training methods to new techniques and tactics, NHL goaltenders are constantly looking for anything that will give them an edge on shooters.
The latest evolution in goalie skates is giving some that edge -- literally.
New models from Bauer and from VH Footwear, a small skate company based in Winnipeg, have taken the hard plastic cowling off goaltender skates, removing the extra layer that used to wrap around the front edge of the boot and provide an extra air gap around the toe. The result is a thinner profile across the width of the foot and less material on the inside edge below the big toe, which allows a goaltender to dig in his blade at more extreme angles before that inside of the skate boot makes contact with the ice, which can cause him to lose that edge and slip out.
This means a goalie can hold his inside edge better from a lower, wider stance and still be able to push laterally with power. It also makes it easier to establish a good edge when he is down on his knees and wants to push side to side.
If removing that thin layer of plastic sounds like a small thing, consider how big a difference New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said it has made in his game. Lundqvist, who was top five in the NHL in wins (eight), goals-against average (1.65) and save percentage (.949) after a shutout Tuesday, talked with Larry Brooks of the New York Post about the skates in late October.