Goalie guru sees net gains

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Steve McKichan has been out west to check on Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge, soon will travel to Florida to see Todd Ford and drops in every so often on J-S Aubin and J-F Racine with the Marlies.

But the goaltending consultant naturally is most concerned with the two men who are paid to stop the puck for the Leafs, Ed Belfour and Mikael Tellqvist.

McKichan commutes from his Strathroy, Ont., home an average of three times a week to work with the pair.

With the equipment reduction for goalies and their restricted movement in the new NHL, McKichan has noted some changes.

"Recently it has been a blocking game, where the goaltenders would establish a position and set up a block, close their arms and make pucks hit them," McKichan said. "Now, pucks are sifting through and they have to challenge more. But one tangible effect of the smaller gear is they have more mobility."

What has made the job a bit more difficult for the goalies is that because forwards are not being held up, they not only have more time to make plays but also can take longer in making their shots.

"It's not so much the equipment, because I can move around better with smaller pads," Tellqvist said, giving credence to McKichan's thinking. "But some teams just try to shoot for rebounds and you have to be careful with that."

Though Belfour's adjustment to the changes has meant a drop in his numbers -- he is 10-5-2 but has a 3.28 goals-against average, .895 save percentage and no shutouts -- McKichan has seen little change in his approach.

"He is following the puck well and I'm happy with where he is," McKichan said. "He is as confident as I've seen him."


Videos

Photos