In hockey today we hear a lot about “butterfly” goaltenders, but really what is being referred to are “half-butterfly” goaltenders.
A true butterfly move is one where a goaltender is able to get a full, or almost full, extension with both legs at once, while also keeping the 5-hole rather closed. Very few goaltenders, regardless of the level, can accomplish this task quickly and while under control.
The most common save used by goaltenders is a form of a half-butterfly, which is a full extension of a pad to one side, while keeping the 5-hole rather closed. The “back” leg provides the body with support and should stay close to under the body.
It sounds simple, and it is if the goalie is set and stationary, reacting to a shot with limited traffic. This, however, rarely happens. So a goaltender must learn to half-butterfly in a variety of situations under a multitude of circumstances.
Be fast, flexible
In preparing a goaltender to be “fast and flexible”—able to get his pads down in all possible situations—we work on balance, weight transfers, edges, and lower body flexibility while striving to be equally as good to the left as to the right.
Regardless of the type of half-butterfly used, the goaltender must stay compact, and close the holes created by the armpits and between the pads. He must have a disciplined stick, and must get the saving pad down tight to the ice. In other words, be physically efficient with the arms and legs working together.
When analyzing the different kinds of half-butterflies, our goal is to master eight varieties. (Remember, whatever you do to your left, you must be able to do the right).
1. Stationary. The simplest of all, used on shots when the goaltender is set.
2. Quarter-Turn Half-Butterfly. From a stationary position, the goaltender rotates his hips 1/4 turn and pushes, making a diagonal half-butterfly toward the post. We use this on backdoor plays. Often, it is called a one-pad slide.
3. Moving 1/4 Turn. Instead of a stationary position, the goalie is moving backward, often on a rush or breakaway situation. The “flow” simulates a “Y” in motion. The goalie must be able to shift weight and edges and be able to go back toward either post equally as fast.
4. Transition Half-Butterfly. This requires the goaltender to have the ability to shuffle in one direction (while moving with the puck) and then explode laterally in a half-butterfly in the other direction as a result of a pass.
5. Forward Half-Butterfly. A goaltender must be able to be moving forward (normally off the post on a centering pass) and make a brisk, efficient half-butterfly. This typically occurs on a quick centering play when the goaltender is unable to get set while moving forward. This is very difficult for all but the most highly-skilled.
6. Backward Half-Butterfly. A goaltender must be able to be moving backward and make a half-butterfly. This typically occurs on a rush or a shot on a breakaway.
7. Moving Laterally, Left Pad Down. A goaltender must be able to move laterally across the net, (for example to the left) shift weight and get the left pad down quickly while moving.
8. Moving Laterally, Right Pad Down. A goaltender must be able to move laterally across the net, (for example to the left) and be able to shift weight and get down with the right pad quickly. This occurs when a player shoots the puck “back from the side from which he came.”
Overall, balance, weight transfer and bringing the back leg under the body for support are the keys to having great feet—both to the left and right.
Mitch Korn is the goaltender coach for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. In addition, he is an administrator at Miami University (Ohio) and directs the 8-week Summer Hockey School. Miami has Division I ice hockey in the CCHA.