Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) makes a save as Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during first period NHL action in Vancouver on January 2, 2020. Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom is using a tennis ball machine as part of his training to stay sharp. But 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 novel coronavirus outbreak that forced the NHL to pause its season on March 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) makes a save as Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during first period NHL action in Vancouver on January 2, 2020. Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom is using a tennis ball machine as part of his training to stay sharp. But 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 novel coronavirus outbreak that forced the NHL to pause its season on March 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘Knowledge and creativity’ the only training limitations for goalies in pandemic

Some suggest goalies go outside their comfort zone during the pandemic by incorporating new regimens

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 COVID-19 pandemic, so a wall has had to do the trick.

Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, might have the best option of the bunch — he’s self-isolating with teammate and 47-goal man Auston Matthews.

“I have a pretty good shooter here,” Andersen joked.

But 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 novel coronavirus outbreak that forced the NHL to pause its season on March 12.

Unlike skaters, who might have a net in the driveway or the ability run through a stickhandling 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 Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck has also been doing his best to stay on top of things during this unprecedented stoppage.

But it’s not easy.

“No one’s been through this before,” Hellebuyck said. ”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 dialled 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.”

“It’s definitely a challenge not to be able to go on the ice,” Andersen said. “In times like this where facilities are limited, it’s about trying to be creative.”

That’s why 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.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says too early to discuss ‘immunity passports’ for people recovered from COVID

Francilia, who focuses on long-term athlete development, said while the coronavirus shutdown is an overall negative, it’s presented an opportunity.

“Every goalie has little bits and pieces they can always work on, whether it’s related to a past injury or some imbalances or some biomechanical hiccups that you never get to during the season,” he said. ”The only limitation is knowledge and creativity.”

John Stevenson, a performance psychologist and former NHL goalie coach, said he always instructs his netminders to work on blocking outside noise.

The pandemic is no different.

“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.”

Stevenson, whose NHL list includes Washington’s Braden Holtby and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart, agreed with Francilia that the league’s pause opens doors for netminders.

But not all training is equal.

“A lot of goalies train hard,” he said. ”But they don’t all train smart.”

Stevenson, who had a two-hour call with an NHLer on Friday, counsels players on variety of skills, including mental rehearsal — he doesn’t like the term “visualization” — mindfulness meditations, cognitive perceptual training and breathing.

He suggests goalies go outside their comfort zone during the pandemic by incorporating new regimens.

“This is a great opportunity to go and try some things that you’ve never done before,” said Stevenson, who shared that Hart is looking to improve his juggling skills from four balls to five. ”This period of time could make some goalies better.”

Hellebuyck said he’s been watching highlights from the Vezina Trophy-worthy campaign he hopes to resume later this spring or in the summer.

“Try to kind of live in the moment with that.”

He added Francilia is constantly on his case about training, which includes detailed and varied videos demonstrating each exercise.

“He’s been contacting me more than I’ve been contacting him,” Hellebuyck said. ”He’s been on my tail trying to get me to work out pretty hard. It’s good, and I have been.”

Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, who turns 39 next month, described the “mental battle” that comes with preparing for the resumption of a season that may or may not arrive.

“You just have to force yourself through it … it comes down to a mindset,” he said. ”It’s too early to tell which way this thing’s going to go. You just want to make sure you’re ready at any given moment.”

The other Andersen — Toronto’s netminder — said he’s doing his best to pretend he’s still in the middle of the season.

“You need to keep your mental focus on actually playing hockey even though you can’t be on the ice,” Andersen said. ”The videos have allowed me to keep that going.”

“I’ve been watching all the video clips from this season — all the games I’ve where I played well,” Korpisalo added. ”It reminds me of those good moments.”

Like many people self-isolating, Francilia said monotony can even get NHLers down. With that in mind, he’s tried to set short-term goals for his clients.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we’re training to return,” he said. ”Think about this as exercising because you want to be a healthy individual. Try to widen your worldview. At the same time, these guys are so used to competing and becoming single-minded in their focus. I encourage them to also get excited. This is an opportunity in an otherwise pretty uneventful day to create that competitive moment.

“Here’s the moment these guys are starving for.”

___

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirushockeyNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head inmates in Metchosin receive their first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Dallas Road

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
Two people escape injury in Colwood house fire

Heatherly Road fire started on a covered porch

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke woman almost falls for lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read