Tarasov a hybrid goalie

By Chris Boucher
Nine days of intense workouts are beginning to pay off for the players here at the Canadiens’ prospect development camp. Drills are being run with much more precision. Passes are moving from tape to tape, scorers are starting to score, and playmakers are making the plays that are only made after successive intense on-ice workouts.

Tarasov / Belanger

Vadim Tarasov (7th round, 1999) is working hard to stop every shot he faces. He’s eager to impress, and his work ethic has been second to none. He and Luc Belanger (recently signed by the Citadelles) are far and above the best goalies in camp. While both have been effective, their styles of play represent what some people consider competing styles.

Tarasov is more of a hybrid goalie. Utilizing whatever style he deems necessary depending on the situation. He’s a reaction goalie; relying on reflexes to stop to the puck, and solid skating to remain square to the shooter. This style of play often contributes to inconsistency. It forces the goalie to rely too often on his reflexes. This puts pressure on the goalie’s ability to remain focused. Any drop in focus usually results in bad goals. Tarasov’s style of play is the likely reason for his past inconsistencies. He has a reputation of being a goalie who plays great when he’s on, but plays terrible when he’s not. In fact, there was a period last season when his somewhat erratic play was enough for him to fall out of favour with his coach. Between October 26th and November 11th Tarasov played in only two of his team’s nine games. His save percentage during those 2 games was a disappointing .842.

However, Tarasov rebounded exceptionally well. Finishing the season strong. This is a testament to his character, as well as his style of play. His reflexes are NHL-calibre, and he has the skating ability to match. He has strong puck-handling skills to go along with an explosive glove hand, and quick feet. However his five-hole is a concern.

Belanger, on the other hand is a typical butterfly goalie. His first move is usually to his knees. But his butterfly is tight enough, and his shoulders are square enough that shooters often end up shooting the puck over the net. He’s stronger than Tarasov down low. However he doesn’t have Tarasov’s explosiveness. One of Belanger’s best attributes is his aggressive butterfly. What’s meant by aggressive is his quickness to the butterfly. He doesn’t just allow gravity to take him to his knees. His butterfly comes by way of an aggressive push from his hips. This forces the knees down to the ice. Thereby gaining a fraction of a second. This millisecond is often the difference between a goal and a save.

Belanger can easily be described as a more refined, technical goalie. He will usually make the solid save. However Tarasov’s style lends itself more to the spectacular, highlight film save.

Milroy / Kruchinin

Duncan Milroy (2nd round, 2001), and Andrei Kruchinin (7th round, 1998) have also started to show their respective abilities during drills. Milroy has shown a talent for handling the puck in traffic. But he sometimes holds onto the puck too long; a common trait for Major Junior hockey players.

Andrei Kruchinin has pretty much come as advertised. He’s a better puck-handler than thought, and looks slightly thicker than his attributed weight of 190 lbs. The Russian defenseman seems very eager to please, sometimes banging his stick in frustration when he fails to make the necessary play.

Click on the Canadiens’ logo at the top left of the page to see a listing of the Habs’ top prospects. Including biographical information, and up-to-date stats.

Feel free to E-MAIL me with any questions or comments (in English or French). Just click on my name at the top of this page. I am a former goaltender with writing, scouting, and coaching experience.