If he could do it over and over again, Braden Holtby says he would stop Andreas Athanasiou’s bad-angle, game-winning shot Tuesday night 999 straight times. Former NHL goaltender and current television analyst Marty Biron has a different opinion.
“It was a pretty typical play,” Holtby told reporters following the Capitals’ 1-0 loss in Detroit Tuesday, a game decided by Athanasiou’s goal 4:06 into the second period. “Obviously, it’s not a goal you want to go in.
“I’ve played that shot a thousand times and I’ve never had a puck go in there. I don’t know why my pad came off the ice. I haven’t really seen a good replay to see where it came off, but I’m upset.”
So is Biron, who tweeted Tuesday night, “I hate goalies overusing the RVH. No need to go down here.”
I hate goalies overusing the RVH. No need to go down here. https://t.co/NTAIGUzU9W pic.twitter.com/rGXkOReXrW
— Martin Biron (@martybiron43) November 11, 2015
Biron is referring to the reverse vertical horizontal (RVH), a goaltending move popularized by Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It’s a relatively new technique,” Biron said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, “and it’s good to use it in the right situation, but too many goalies use it too often. In my personal opinion, there’s only a handful of situations you should do it in a game.”
The RVH is a variation of the VH that became popular among goalies in the early 2000s when netminders began hugging the post with a vertical leg pad while going down to one knee in the middle of the crease with the horizontal pad.
But when Quick switched things up by putting his skate and pad low to the ice against the post, while keeping his middle-of-the-crease pad vertical (thus, reverse vertical horizontal) many goaltending coaches incorporated the new technique to seal off bad-angle goals.
On Tuesday night, Holtby went to the RVH just as Athanasiou approached the goal line from near the left wing boards.
“It’s a goal that shouldn’t go in, but I play that the same way every time,” Holtby said. “I don’t know if I had my equipment right or not. (The puck entered the net) right at the boot break there. It usually seals there. I don’t know what happened.”
In Biron’s opinion, the RVH method should only be used in three situations:
1. When a shooter makes a power move from behind the net and is within 5-10 feet between the trapezoiod and the goal line.
2. On attempted wraparounds, when a goaltender needs to move quickly from post-to-post.
3. On shots that are fired wide of the net and the puck caroms off the end boards and to the side of the net for potential rebound opportunities.
Biron said the dangers of going into the RVH on a wide-angle shot from the goal line – something Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth also did on a bad-angle goal by Jarome Iginla Tuesday night – is that the longer a goalie’s skate is pressed against the post, the greater the chance his leg will roll and create a small space between the top of his skate boot and the ice.
“I probably have 50 clips of goalies going down too early when they shouldn’t even be using it,” Biron said. “Jonathan Quick can do it because he’s a freak of nature. But to hold that position on the post is physically really hard. If you’re not leaning into the post, you’re leaning away from it. And now you’re seeing more and more shooters trying to find that opening. They’re either looking to put one under the (cross) bar or they’re shooting along the ice.”