Hockey Practice Drills to Teach “The Panda”

Goalie Drills to Teach “The Panda”
The Panda, if utilized properly, will help smaller goalies hold their edges and minimize pucks going over their shoulder on dead angle plays.

The “Panda,” the modern amalgamation of two older styles, originated as a solution to an Reverse Vertical Horizontal problem identified by goalie coaches in the Ottawa area, but got its official name from its use in the Calgary Flames system. Their Development Goalie Coach Thomas Speer and goalie Dustin Wolf further developed this technique.

I had the privilege of working with Brian Daccord (Stop it Goaltending) during the summer of 2022 in Colorado, at the Global Goalie Retreat. Under the guidance of Daccord, we reviewed “The Panda 101,” focusing on the benefits of its implementation. Note: there will be a lot of arguments for and against, I am simply presenting this save selection as a tool for the tool box.

The Panda 101

The Panda is a save selection used when transitioning from a bad angle play to a dead angle play in the defensive zone. I have found this technique most beneficial for shorter goalies or goalies who struggle with getting beat over the shoulder in the RVH. The focus is, as the puck transitions down the wall from Zone 2 (bad angle) to Zone 1 (dead angle), the goalie flows from the overlap (Zone 2 footing) to an overlap with Zone 1 footing (backside blade a few degrees off the goalie line and toes pointing up ice). The position and rotation adjust with the handedness of the shooter and the position/availability of any pass options. It is important that we understand, like the VH and the RVH, there are no absolutes, only guidelines to help influence our decisions.

In North America, I have found a lot of goalie coaches like to deal in absolutes. Meaning, if the puck is in a dead angle we use the RVH, but where are the details? The read? An RVH can be very effective on a dead angle play. However, what is the puck’s proximity to the net? What’s the goalie’s experience in using the RVH? How old (experience level) is the goalie you are teaching? What hand is the shooter? Is there pressure from the D? Is there a pass option? There are many variables at play.

Teaching The Panda

The Panda, if utilized properly, will help smaller goalies hold their edges and minimize pucks going over their shoulder on dead angle plays . . .



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Matthew Bourgeois

Matthew has been a coach and a scout for over 20 years at some of the highest levels. Matthew is coaching at Canisius College NCAA D1 this season. Matthew is a certified High Performance 1 coach and Goaltending Level 3 coach with Hockey Canada. Matthew works with the Ontario Hockey Federation, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association as well as the Northern Ontario Minor Hockey Association as a goaltending coach and mentor. Matthew’s passion lies in goalie development and guiding players to become the best version of themselves. Since 2009 Matthew has travelled to Europe, Asia, Australia and the US to work with some of the best hockey programs and is looking forward to sharing what he’s learned with the subscribers of The Coaches Site.

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