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Photo Credit: Greg Bartram/USA Today Sports

A Jacob Markstrom Mixtape

While Calgary Flames fans had ample opportunity to acquaint themselves with Jacob Markstrom as a divisional opponent for the past few years, monthly matchups do not exactly lend themselves to intimate appraisals of a goaltender’s playing style.

So, for those who sneered at him while he played for the Vancouver Canucks or those who snoozed while he shocked the St. Louis Blues this past August, here are some breakdowns of how the newest Flames netminder routinely paddles pucks aside.

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A drinking game that prescribes a shot for every time Markstrom executes a textbook lateral lunge or knee-jerk kick save like that would inflict absolute massacres. Folks would be slumped over their couches, slurring their speech, flailing atwitch on their futons by the first intermission. The acrobatic pad save is Markstrom’s signature move.

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These are the glamourous examples, but even while confronting the most mundane shots Markstrom relies on punching pucks with his pads. He is a quintessential butterfly goaltender of the modern era, spilling to the ice nearly every shot, and at 6’6” he has plenty of leg to prop against the ice. As a result, Markstrom plows left and right to clog the posts better than most.

By extending his pads to the sides so seamlessly, Markstrom essentially forces the shooter to elevate the puck to even garner a genuine scoring chance. Otherwise, the puck just bobs and bounces against the outstretched thunder thighs.

It is also worth noting that Markstrom flaunts such mobility specifically within the crease, which he already smothers with his monstrous size. Upon inspection, he rarely strays from the blue paint at all (check aforementioned highlights too!) and instead uses the privilege afforded by his stature to linger deep in his net without exposing too much mesh or sacrificing visibility.

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Crouched and toeing the goalline while confronting point-blank cross-crease shots? Still tough stops, but oversliding is not an option. Positionally, this blend of a braced and buttressed butterfly, cool and composed athleticism and marriage to his crease keep his play pristine. Observe.

The biggest risk with rushing out of the crease to challenge shots always concerns the rebound. Striding forwards and swallowing more space makes that first save easier, sure, but controlling the rebound is the most important element of that strategy. Otherwise, the goalie strands himself away from the net as the onslaught ensues. Cue the burn.

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Obviously, Markstrom’s particular style still has its flaws. Sprawling sideways on his knees with such long legs creaks his five-hole open, balloons the void beyond the size of most goalies when they shift. Also, receding deep into the goalmouth complicates steering pucks away from the netfront, as goalies who burst further forwards (like Cam Talbot in the above example) usually fling rebounds further away from the crease, too. Planting yourself well within the blue paint contains the rebounds in the general vicinity of the blue paint, which invites barrages—though you remain in an excellent position to stop them.

But ultimately, like every goalie, Markstrom also has his lawless and miraculous moments:

Analysis inapplicable.

Awe inspired.

Anticipation intensified.

So, upon reviewing the highlights, the Flames clearly boast a starter who punts and pushes and protects the goal line with the best of them. Welcome to Calgary, Jacob Markstrom.