TORONTO, ONT – Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom is using a tennis ball machine as part of his training to stay sharp.
Columbus Blue Jackets counterpart Joonas Korpisalo doesn’t have that technology at his disposal during the coronavirus pandemic, so a wall has had to do the trick.
Toronto's Frederik Andersen is self-isolating with teammate and 47-goal man Auston Matthews.
“I have a pretty good shooter here,” Andersen said.
No matter the setup, NHL puck-stoppers are, at least on the surface, at a disadvantage when it comes to maintaining most of their physical skills during the lull since the season was suspended March 12.
Unlike skaters, who might have a net in the driveway or the ability run through a stick-handling drill, goalies are having a hard time mimicking situations that even loosely resemble practice or game situations.
“We’re doing our best and working a lot on hand-eye,” Markstrom said. “Don’t let your eyes fall asleep is a big thing.”
Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck said:
“No one’s been through this before. There’s really no book, no right way. I’m not able to strap on the pads. That’s the most important part about being dialed in as a goalie, getting a feel and really getting the workload. Going for a run isn’t going to keep me in goaltender shape.”
Many goalies are leaning on their private trainers.
While a team’s strength and conditioning coach has to formulate programs for more than 20 players, people like Adam Francilia, whose NHL clients include the San Jose Sharks, Hellebuyck, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk and Carolina’s James Reimer, develop plans specifically for netminders.
“In some cases they have really great home gyms at their disposal,” Francilia said. “And then there’s some guys in a condo with nothing ... but I have enough stuff in my repertoire that guys only need their body weight to train.”
John Stevenson, a performance psychologist and former NHL goalie coach, said he always instructs his netminders to work on blocking outside noise.
“The coronavirus is an uncontrollable,” he said. “We don’t have control over the uncontrollables, but we definitely have control over how we choose to respond.”