I am going to say this, and you will probably laugh at me for it:
The reason Henrik Karlsson struggles as a goaltender is because he’s so tall.
I realize that sounds absolutely insane, but I’m convinced that his size paired with his goaltending style (butterfly) put quite a hamper on his goaltending ability – to the point where he probably won’t be with the team next year.
The two biggest issues Karlsson has are protecting the top cheds and limiting rebounds. The guy can make some highlight-reel saves, but I’m convinced that that’s merely a function of his athletic ability since most of the time he’s out of position. How many times have you seen Karlsson in a game standing straight up when the action is near him? I’m going to bet it’s not a lot.
The Butterfly Effect
The temptation for butterfly goalies to stay in the butterfly position is quite strong – most goals are scored when the puck is on the ice or just barely off the ice. Obviously, when a goaltender is in the butterfly, his pads are covering that “on-the-ice-and-right-above-the-ice” area pretty well. However, that also means you’re not going to be able to control rebounds as well. In the words of one goaltender that I talked to, when a puck bounces off the pad of a goalie in the butterfly “you’re pretty much boned.”
What makes Karlsson different from other goalies is that his height – or rather, his leg length – is enough to pretty much fully cover the entire bottom of the net. He knows that, and to me it’s apparent that his play is basically dictated by that fact. That means his rebound control takes a big hit, which creates problems for him and the rest of the team. The length of his torso has a lot to do with it as well – a net is only 4 feet tall. When you’re 6’5 and you’re covering 80% of the net as it is in a butterfly position, it’s not terribly tempting to change your positioning.
Of course, being on your knees the entire game creates problems with the top half of the net. Karlsson hasn’t been able to demonstrate that he has the reflexes necessary to cover that part, though. As we’ve discussed, the top half of the net is really the only place that you can score on him when he’s in the butterfly. Most of the shots that come towards Karlsson are shots that are going to be above ice level – and you can connect the dots from there.
So, am I crazy? Leave your opinions in the comments.