Brians

 

There are 3 Flash movies at the bottom of the page and they use Flash6. If you don't have it, it's a one minute download at Macromedia or if you just leave the box open, after a short while it should ask if you want it.

Over the years goaltending has changed a lot and one of the more recent innovations is the split butterfly. It's not really new, but rather a variation on older moves which allow it to solve several short side coverage and mobility problems in a simple, stress free way.


I'm sure this move goes by a number of names but split butterfly will do. It's very simple, just keep one pad up against the post and drop the other one to the ice while the hands and chest stay up high. Since I'm new to this move I'll have a lot of mistakes to point out to you.

In the NHL, you don't see much of this move yet. If you want to know what's happening in goaltending, watch the younger Quebec goalies. Giguere's form is right on.

So let's look at the short side coverage and mobility problems.

As good as the full butterfly is, from sharper angles it can be hard to cover the short side.
With the foot sitting
against the post you leave a lot of room above the pad (green areas).


If you fold the short side leg back (Hasek) it will allow your body to get closer to the post but this wastes valuable pad coverage. It's hard to get the body right up against the post and if you do, whether you're on your feet or on your knees, you'll be exposing a lot of net on the other side. Goalies using the Dafoe move will also give up a lot of goals along the ice as they struggle to keep the 5 hole and the feet in order. Felix might have leaned over to the short side just a little bit and the shooter got him far side. Top level shooters are incredibly good so you can't afford to sacrifice coverage.

Mobility out of the short side in the butterfly isn't hard, especially if you have Overdrive, but it does take time and effort. So if you're down and need to move left, you'll have to raise your right leg up to push over. There's nothing really wrong with this move but quicker and easier would be better.

Moving laterally out of the stance isn't bad either, especially if you have Overdrive; you just push. However, you get a weaker push because your weight is divided between both feet. If all of Belfour's weight was on his right foot, it would be fully 'loaded' for a much stronger push.

Moving across the crease can be a bit awkward when the feet are together and extremely awkward when you're backing up at the same time. Backing up and covering and getting set to move can tie your feet in knots and create a mess. The stick lifts and holes open up everywhere. You'll often see players slip the puck between the feet as the goalie starts to move or go wide as the goalie sprawls.

The split butterfly improves short side coverage while at the same time loading the pushing leg for better mobility. Let's see why.

 
Above is an ideal situation for the split and for once, I almost get everything right. Al Sinclair is coming in on his proper wing so the near post, especially up top is high risk. By frame 2 I am leaning to my right to protect that side. Al doesn't see anything so he goes 5 hole and it's a simple matter of dropping the leg. If the shooter expects a straight butterfly, he'll try to go up top because collapsing the right leg would give him room. Notice that my glove is hanging too low. We'll look at problems and mistakes later. Below is a save on a similar shot. Dropping only one knee is a lot less stressful and the coverage better suits the situation. High risk areas (near post) get more coverage and low risk areas (far post) get less. I make full use of the pads and if the shooter tries to go low anywhere, I'll get it. One thing about this move is you'd better be ready to pounce on the rebounds. In the butterfly a lot of shots hit you and go into your lap but with this move they fall to the ice.

In the split butterfly, the pushing foot is 'loaded' and ready to push. No preparation or lifting of the leg is needed so you can really stay on top of the play. Below, I used the split to take away the shooters angle on the near side. As soon as he passed it across, I was moving. You can tell it was a strong push because I recovered at the edge of my crease.
On the move below, instead of sliding across I got up. This was like the Byron Dafoe play above; a player cutting in backhands it low. The Split covers those plays easily and he sent it way wide. Moving out of this position is immediate and simple. I just push and I'm up and across the crease.
It might be a good idea to take a closer look at the feet on this move. First of all, the shots below give you some idea of how much I used Overdrive. Secondly, notice the right foot. It doesn't turn but keeps the pad face out for maximum coverage. This is a variation of that 'New Move' from the page of the same name. I haven't forgotten about that move and plan to work on it this year.

So that's the good news. On some situations the split butterfly covers better and you can move out of the position much easier. I'll look at when to use it a little later but first the bad news. There are problems with the Split and you'll let in a lot of goals as you get over them. Actually, anytime you change your game, expect to regress a bit before you improve. Progress is expensive. I'm actually lucky though because I just play for fun (I don't do leagues) and they like me if I let more goals in. I can afford to regress a bit. However, it did get to the point where players were wondering ('Going down a little early, eh?' or 'Been playing much John?'). I've since put an end to that kind of chatter.

On the butterfly, it's easy to squeeze the form tight to form a solid block of coverage. With the Split it's a little harder. You'll have to really work on your form or holes will open up and you'll get stuff trickling through all over the place. I'll look at each body part.
If the pad that is down does not flip up in a profly you'll be in trouble because holes will form the length of the pad. You need that solid wall of coverage and tall pads help here. Also, the leg will naturally want to fold back so you'll have to get used to flaring it out, otherwise shots will sneak by you along the ice.

If you don't use the profly, pucks will run along your pads and sneak through the holes (green circles) like little mice.

It's not easy to flare the leg out but you'll have to. Notice that it can open up the 5 hole but it's no real biggie. Also, notice that most pads (except for Koho) have a slight taper at the top so the thigh rise is not flat on the ice.

The pad that is up can't lean at too much of an angle or you'll get shooters squeezing shots in off the side of your pads or off the post (I've had a lot of those!!). You'll never get the leg perpendicular and there's no point in trying because you lose pushing leverage if the leg is too straight.
One thing I found out from this move is that my balance needed improving so here's what I did. The shots on the left show me leaning on either side. This is an important part of the Split so I practiced it and it helped. I'd lean over to one side and get the feel of things and then switch. It used the glute muscles a little differently and I found that I settled into the position better. Soon the weight was shifting into the move quicker. The leg that is up takes the weight of this move so try this and hopefully it'll help. I'd also add in slides to the other side. This is important because the leg is fully loaded with most of your weight so it's going to be a tough push that'll work those quads and glutes. Also, keep the hands loose and independent.

When the leg is down, you have a choice on where to put the trapper. Below you can see that Giguere and Denis both have it low.
I've tried to keep it up and rely on the pad to cover that low. It sort of forces me to flare that leg out. Besides, I find that if my weight gets too low that it becomes hard to push off. The 'Moves While Down' page explains that I lighten up on the sliding leg and get a little 'hop' going in order to move. I find it harder to do that if I'm too low. Also, I have a 'low trapper' problem that I don't want to encourage.

When the leg is up, it is absolutely essential that the trapper stay high. You will get burned time and time again if you don't (guess how I found that out!). The good news is that I'm finally being cured of this sickness and I'm even holding it up when I'm in my regular stance now. The shot shows the trapper up but not opened enough. Position it around the top of thigh rise and you should be alright.
If you want great coverage, try flipping it. Plant it on top of the thigh rise with the cuff down and the 'T' straight up. It takes some time to get used to but I guarantee you will make some neat saves. The Split is designed to focus on a shooters strength and when that side is their strength, the top of the net is REALLY their strength (very short explanation). I've had lots of saves were the shooter comes in close and unwinds a bullet for the top corner. I take the position and it goes in the glove and I laugh because there is no way I could see the puck or react to it.

When the leg is up, there's no spot where the blocker and stick settle in comfortably. The stick must stay on the ice so the blocker won't be able to cover high like the trapper can. It will have to sit either in front of the pad or beside it. If it sits beside it, it can push the pad over and leave holes along the post., so as it stands now, I try to get the blocker out in front of the pad. It doubles up the coverage but out front like that it cuts the angle up top.

Here's Giguere again and you can see that he's got a hole along the post. There's nothing you can do about that because the stick has to stay on the ice.You might as well resign yourself to letting one in there once in a while. It happened to me a lot at the beginning but I think I've got it under control.

I've got my blocker parallel with my pad but I like to get it out in front to take away some of the angle on the top of the net. That top corner is a problem so if you get caught deep and it's the seventh game and it's tied, you'll have to tilt your head over and take one on the noggin.


I've spent a lot of time on this page stressing the near post but shooters aren't as dumb as they seem and once in a while they'll go far side so you'd better be ready. Keeping the blocker up will control the situation. It'll be positioned exactly the same as in your regular stance so you shouldn't have a problem moving it. There's nothing wrong with dropping into a Paddle Down if the player tries a deke but don't start there. You'll cover a lot more room by keeping your chest up. Paddle down glues the blocker to the ice and if you go into it too quickly it takes shooters about one shift to figure you out and start shooting over that shoulder.

Moving out of a Split is no different than other moves while down and the problems are the same as well. This page is getting a little lengthy so for a full description of problems moving out of the Split butterfly please go to the 'Moves While Down' page.

Using the move
The split butterfly can be a whole lot of trouble to get into your game. First of all, you'll need to get your timing right on when to drop the knee. Timing should be as late as possible. Better to stay stuck on your feet than to go down too soon because you'll be exposing a whole lot of net up top.
On this play, my form is alright but it's way too early and I'm in too deep. At this point I should still be in my stance and maybe only leaning on my left leg a bit. When you're new to a move, it takes you longer to go into it so you start earlier. By the time Al gets in closer, my form will compress, I'll be deeper into the Split and there'll be even more room up top.
To the right is the same thing again. He's not even close and I'm deep in the position. These moves have peak times and then start to degrade. You can't hold perfect position for long. If you start too early, by the time the shooter gets to you the blocker will have shifted, the pad won't be as flared out, the trapper may be hanging low and you'll be 'sitting down' and hunching your chest. (BTW. Al was not the only player to shoot on me that day.)

Same mistake on the same player and I did it even more that day!! I paid for this move with a lot of goals. He's gone around the net so I set up for a wraparound, which is OK but now he's circling out, my form is bad and he's got me. I got lucky here but on these plays you have to stand up and if you can, lean on the short side leg*. It's not hard because the feet are well positioned for it. You just have to remember to do it.

*(The player is circling and twisting so there's a lot of torque on his body making it hard to go far side)

On this one I twisted too much, went down too early, my pad didn't flare out and of course the trapper was low. I'm out a little farther so the puck hit my toe but I've had a lot of these sneak in.
Until now, I've only been using this move when a player, preferably on his proper wing is on a sharp angle. Below is a slightly different play. It was a passout across the crease so instead of coming across in a butterfly I kept the left leg up, got a good hard stop, set up in a split and that way I was ready for both a shot and a pass to my trapper side. If I had used the butterfly and the player had passed it off, it would have taken longer to reverse my motion.

I've had a lot of problems with this move in head-on situations. The usual disasters; leaning too much, leaning the wrong way, anticipating, getting my feet tied up. It's still very much a work in progress and I'm not sure if it's better than just setting up in a wide, tight butterfly. I'll continue with the experiment and get back to this page when I have more to report.

Here's Belfour showing good form on shots from in front.

So that's about it for now on the Split Butterfly. I hope it helps. It's a lot of info but there's more stuff on these Flash pieces.
A couple of the movies may take a few minutes to load. Hope they're worth the wait.
I haven't figured out why yet but the video slows down a bit when it goes into the browser.

Clips from TV of goals that could have used the split.

TV clips on having your glove low.