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Unmasked

For goaltenders, more protection, the better

When it comes to cups, one just isn't enough

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

From personalized painted masks to brightly patterned pads and custom-fitting everything, equipment has always been a big part of goaltending in the NHL. But there is one piece of protection that is especially important when tasked with getting in the way of frozen pucks shot upward of 100 miles an hour. In fact, most goalies have more than one.

So just how many cups do you think the average NHL goaltender wears these days?

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Goaltenders adding yoga to in-season workout regimen

Carey Price of Canadiens considering going barefoot in skates for better grip, similar to poses on mats

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

It's easy to see how practicing yoga, with its emphasis on flexibility and balance, could be beneficial to any goaltender. But Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens planned to take it to another level this season by going barefoot.

Just like yoga students often are encouraged to spread their toes for better balance and a better foundation when doing poses, Price believed that taking off his socks in his skates did the same on the ice.

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Golden Knights will have plenty of goalie options

Vegas will determine offseason market in NHL Expansion Draft

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

The NHL Trade Deadline passed without a lot of goaltending movement, but one move on March 1 is bound to have a significant effect on the annual offseason game of goalie musical chairs.

The Vegas Golden Knights can now start building their team, and though they won't be allowed to make agreements to claim or not claim a player in the NHL Expansion Draft until the season is over for the team they are negotiating with, there is little doubt what Vegas decides will impact the goalie market.

So, with the caveat the expansion draft is a complicated matrix, let's take a look at some of the top options.

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For goalies, getting traded can be complicated

Devan Dubnyk of Wild, Steve Mason of Flyers well-acquainted with switching teams

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

When it comes to acquiring a goaltender before the NHL Trade Deadline, set for March 1 at 3 p.m. ET, there are a lot of factors to consider, from contract status to expansion draft eligibility, before even beginning to look at an increasingly deep pool of statistical analysis.

Still, finding the right fit isn't always easy. That's partly because there are so many other factors that go into a successful pairing, including matching style to system and mindset to opportunity.

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Unmasked: Devan Dubnyk sees big improvement

Vision training helps Wild goalie become one of NHL's best

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk assumes a familiar position in front of a hockey net, but there is no ice and no sign of his usual equipment.

Instead of wearing pads, Dubnyk is on his knees, crouched on two small blocks of foam. Gone is his mask, replaced by a backwards baseball hat and, though he is indoors, a big pair of sunglasses.

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Aaron Dell beat odds to make it to NHL

Sharks backup goalie was undrafted, undersized but worked his way to highest level

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Undrafted and undersized, goalie Aaron Dell took the long route to the NHL, but he never worried his journey would end before reaching its destination.

Dell, the San Jose Sharks' backup, played his first pro season in the now defunct Central Hockey League in 2012-13 and didn't get an NHL contract until his third season was nearly over. Rather than focus on opportunities drafted goalies might be getting ahead of him, Dell soaked up the experiences his lack of profile afforded him. By the time he arrived as a full-time NHL goalie with the Sharks this season, the 27-year-old rookie figured he was ready for everything and caught off guard by nothing.

In a season where several teams have struggled to find a reliable No. 2 and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers have traded or demoted the backups they signed last summer, it helps explain how the 6-foot Dell has gone 6-3-0 with a .928 save percentage despite averaging almost 11 days off between nine games played behind No. 1 Martin Jones.

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Peter Budaj sparkling after sputtering

Kings goalie tied for NHL lead in shutouts thanks to positive reinforcement, coaching

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Peter Budaj failed to win a game with St. John's of the American Hockey League during the 2014-15 season.

Less than two years later, Budaj is tied for the NHL lead with six shutouts and seventh in the League with 24 wins, matching his total from the previous five seasons combined.

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Lack of position-specific practice tough on goalies

Tighter schedule, travel making time to work on technical details harder to find

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The Florida Panthers started their morning skate in typical fashion on a recent visit to Vancouver, with a steady stream of rush drills at both ends of ice designed to get the players' feet moving and their hands warm. However, they ended in a shot at only one end of the ice.

While players teed off on backup Reto Berra from the hash marks or closer at one end, they had to pull up, peel off and get back in line at the other. Panthers No. 1 Roberto Luongo was too busy making lateral recovery pushes from his knees into controlled shots from goaltending coach Rob Tallas to deal with point-blank shots from oncoming teammates.

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Contrasting goalie duo pays dividends for Predators

5-foot-11 rookie Juuse Saros benefits from relationship with 6-foot-5 Pekka Rinne

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- As a 5-foot-11 rookie, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros looks up, literally and figuratively, to veteran Pekka Rinne, his 6-foot-5 partner.

Saros has only good things to say about the many ways his fellow Finn has helped him transition to the NHL. Saros praised Rinne, who is in his ninth NHL season, for helping him on and off the ice and credits the goalie he grew up idolizing for playing a big role in a sizzling start that includes a .950 save percentage (12 goals on 242 shots) in eight starts this season.

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Backup goalies fighting mental, physical traps

Curtis McElhinney, others wrestle with factors starters rarely experience

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

It hasn't been a good week for seldom-used backup goaltenders playing behind workhorse starters in the NHL.

Curtis McElhinney of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Anton Khudobin of the Boston Bruins and Jonas Gustavsson of the Edmonton Oilers each were placed on waivers, putting 441 games of combined NHL experience up for grabs to any team that wanted it.

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