In life, it's the little things that matter. Things like a mini-mite scoring his or her first goal, the sweet scent of Zamboni water, or even Darren Pang.
Little things are also very important in goaltending.
In Jonathan Bernier's brilliant 2-0 shutout of Edmonton on Tuesday night, the hot-streaking goalkeeper made a dazzling glove save on Jordan Eberle in the third period. Because we at Stop Da Puck love to nerd out on such things, what we noticed most was not what Bernier did while making the grab. Rather, what impressed us was what he did before the save that allowed him to be in the right position and anticipate the shot.
In the video above, as the puck is scrapped for behind the goal line, you can see Bernier not once, but twice jerk his neck to the front and peek to see who is dangling in front of the goal. If you look closely (very closely, trust us) at 6 seconds into the vid, Bernier quickly takes his eye off the puck and looks to the front. Two seconds later, he does it again and sees Eberle on the left circle still lurking like a shoplifter at 7-Eleven at one-thirty in the morning.
When the puck is fed to the front, Bernier knows exactly to where and to whom the puck is going, which sets him up perfectly to make the perfect save.
Back when I was a very young goalie (so, like, in the 1940s), goalie coaches would yell at me "NEVER TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK!"
Well, they were wrong. Goalies might at times be like superheroes, but, until they grow eyes in the back and side of their heads, taking a sneak peek is the hockey equivalent of being five moves ahead in chess.