Anyone who blocks shots well is a little crazy. Donít let anyone kid you. Thereís fear involved when the puck is coming in at 100 mph. Iíve broken toes and fingers and some bones in my feet but, hey, somebody has to do it. If the other team is good with one-timers and you block their shots, theyíll think twice about blasting a puck and try a softer wrist shot instead.
When you block a shot, you gain the confidence to do it again, and thatís how I got good at it. Donít go headfirst. Timing and technique are big parts of it. You try to put your shin pad, your pants -- any part of you that is protected -- in front of the puck, always feet-first. I used to look at tape of myself doing it, and I learned to keep myself in position even if I was sliding to block a shot. You need to stay squarely in front of the puck, the same way you do when you play defense with your stick. And itís always a big advantage if you can keep your stick on the ice. You also have to see the puck and know where it is all the time.
Very few forwards still block shots. The risk of injury is too great. But in the playoffs, thereís no tomorrow. You see forwards like Brendan Shanahan sacrifice themselves. You respect those guys.
Guy Carbonneau is an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. This article appears in the May 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
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