An NHL goaltender stands is positioned in front of the goal and is mainly responsible for stopping the puck from crossed the goal line, but they do have some other responsibilities.

Key Responsibilities for a Goaltender

Stopping shots

Your primary objective is to stop the puck from entering the net. You must have quick reflexes, excellent hand-eye coordination, and sound positioning to make saves using your body, glove, blocker, or stick.


Maintaining proper positioning within the crease is essential. You need to be square to the shooter, with your body centered between the posts and your angles adjusted based on the puck's location. Positioning allows you to minimize the available net for the shooter.

Angles and depth control

By understanding the shooter's position and the angle of attack, you can position yourself effectively to cut down the angle and reduce the shooter's available net. Proper depth control helps ensure you are not too far back in the crease, which can leave more net exposed.

Rebound control

When making saves, you need to direct the puck away from the danger areas and away from opposing players. Controlling rebounds helps prevent second-chance opportunities and allows your defensemen to clear the puck.

Puck handling

Goaltenders must possess good puck-handling skills to handle the puck when it's outside the crease. You can assist your defensemen by stopping dump-ins, clearing the puck, or making quick and accurate passes to start offensive plays.


Effective communication with your defensemen is crucial for maintaining defensive structure and ensuring everyone is aware of their assignments. You need to communicate about screens, incoming attackers, and other relevant information.

Breakaway and odd-man rush management

In situations where the opposing team has a breakaway or an odd-man rush, you need to be able to read the play, make decisions quickly, and position yourself effectively to make a save.

Penalty killing

When your team is shorthanded due to a penalty, you play a significant role in stopping the opposing team's power-play opportunities. You must be aware of potential passing lanes, anticipate plays, and make timely saves.

Mental toughness

Goaltending can be mentally demanding, requiring focus, resilience, and the ability to bounce back from goals against. Remaining composed, even in high-pressure situations, is vital for performing at your best.


Goaltenders often serve as leaders on the team due to their unique position. You are expected to provide guidance, support, and encouragement to your teammates and help create a strong team dynamic.

Best NHL Goaltenders of All Time

  • Patrick Roy: Patrick Roy is widely regarded as one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. He played for the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche during his career. Roy won four Stanley Cups, two with each team, and holds several records, including most playoff wins and playoff shutouts. He was known for his intense competitiveness and ability to perform under pressure.
  • Martin Brodeur: Martin Brodeur is considered one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. He spent the majority of his career with the New Jersey Devils, winning three Stanley Cups with the team. Brodeur holds numerous records, including the most wins, shutouts, and games played by a goaltender in NHL history. He was known for his positional play, quick reflexes, and ability to handle the puck.
  • Dominik Hasek: Dominik Hasek, also known as "The Dominator," is widely regarded as one of the most unique and talented goaltenders in NHL history. He played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators. Hasek won two Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player and captured the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. He was known for his acrobatic style, exceptional athleticism, and ability to make seemingly impossible saves.
  • Terry Sawchuk: Terry Sawchuk is considered one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. He played for several teams during his career, most notably the Detroit Red Wings. Sawchuk won four Stanley Cups and was known for his exceptional technique and ability to make difficult saves look effortless. He held the record for most career shutouts for many years and had an incredible career save percentage.
  • Jacques Plante: Jacques Plante revolutionized the goaltending position and is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the modern style of goaltending. He played for the Montreal Canadiens, where he won six Stanley Cups. Plante was the first goaltender to regularly wear a protective mask, which he introduced after getting hit in the face with a shot. He was known for his excellent positioning, reflexes, and ability to handle the puck.