2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #6 Charlie Lindgren

Smile Charlie! In three starts in the NHL, Lindgren has three wins and a .949 SV%. | Photo: Ben McKeown, Associated Press

Undoubtedly the IceCaps’ MVP this season, Lindgren solidified himself as a top prospect in the organization. The AHL All-Star was superhuman throughout his first 20 games, inconsistent through January and February, but superhuman once more to close out the season. In addition to grabbing two NHL wins, it was an interesting case study on the professional transition of the type of goaltender the organization has amassed in heaps lately.

This article will examine one save–yes, just one save–and how it’s a quintessential example of Lindgren’s athleticism and technical strength.

#6) CHARLIE LINDGREN
Midseason: #7 | 2016: #13
Acquired: 2016 Signing
Position: G | Catches: R
Birthdate: 1993-12-18 | Nationality: USA
Team: St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Height: 6’2” (188cm) | Weight: 190 (86kg)

GPWLOTLSOSA/GPMinsSV%GAA
4824186529.0628590.9142.56

Series Navigation:
Top 30 Prospects: Ranking Methodology – Integrating Statistics into Analysis
Top 30 Prospects: #30 – #26 – Success Rates of Swedish Jr. and USHS Defenders
Top 30 Prospects: #25 – #21 – Success Rates of CHL Overage Forwards
Top 30 Prospects: #20 – #16 – Balancing Players with Opposing Skill Sets and Development
Top 30 Prospects: #15 – #11 – Weighing perceived NHL-readiness with NHL Upside
Top 30 Prospects: #10 Will Bitten – Why His Season Was Better Than You Think
Top 30 Prospects: #9 Victor Mete – How Undersized Defenders Can Excel Defensively
Top 30 Prospects: #8 Josh Brook – Improving Shooting Location Through Movement
Top 30 Prospects: #7 Michael McCarron – Do Big Players Really Take Longer to Develop?
Top 30 Prospects: #6 Charlie Lindgren – The Reverse-VH and When Skill Takes Over
Top 30 Prospects: #5 Charles Hudon – A Case Study on the Impact of Aging for NHL Chances
Top 30 Prospects: #4 Joni Ikonen – Multidimensionality in Attack
Top 30 Prospects: #3 Nikita Scherbak – Comparing Scherbak In and Out of Form
Top 30 Prospects: #2 Noah Juulsen – How to Excel at Defending the Blue Line
Top 30 Prospects: #1 Ryan Poehling – Full Breakdown, Importance of Little Details, and More

This save to be examined was from a 3-2 loss against the Toronto Marlies on November 6th, 2016. He faced 31 shots, stopping 28 of them. While he didn’t get the win, it was an reminder of how good Lindgren is. Here’s the save:

Notice Lindgren’s glove hand–he’s a rare southpaw goaltender, meaning he catches right. Remember this, it’s important a bit later.

The key element is noting the puck. The puck was sent around the boards, then picked up by the Marlies player behind the net.

It’s key to note Lindgren’s footwork as the play develops. At first, Lindgren’s skate is nearly outside the crease. When the puck wraps around the boards, Lindgren moves his skates backwards and hunches down to sink into the net. Lindgren maintains eyes on the puck for as long as he can.

This efficient movement gives Lindgren smooth precision in the goal. As he moves back into the net, it allows him to simply angle himself to beat the puck around the net. Economical.

The second element is the technique Lindgren utilizes, the reverse-VH. Popularized by Jonathan Quick in 2012, the reverse-VH is a reverse of the classic Vertical-Horizontal post seal technique. The classic V-H, the pad closest to the post is vertical, while the far pad is horizontal.

The reverse-VH has the pad closest to the post horizontal, while the far pad is vertical, anchoring the goaltender to the ice.

The speed at which Lindgren drops into the reverse-VH is impressive, particularly because he simultaneous achieves of all elements of the technique. The close pad is anchored to the post, ready for movement if need be, while the far leg has the inner edge in contact for stabilization. The stick is dropped to the ice and tucked in to protect the five hole, and can disrupt a pass attempt. And the glove is central and angled well. All in less than a second.

It’s not just about being able to drop into position quickly, it’s arguably even more important to be able to stand up, or in this case, turn that position into a save.

While assuming the reverse-VH, Lindgren locks eyes on the puck once again. The Marlies forward makes a spin pass, but it deflects off Ryan Johnston, and then once more off Daniel Audette. The fortuitous pinball-like bounces land the puck right on stick of an open Marlies player.

Pay close attention to Lindgren’s head movements, and how aggressively he tracks the caroming puck.

After the first carom, Lindgren, fairly, assumes that puck will head up the middle of the ice. He pushes upward off the post, leaving him an awkward position to recover and extended across the crease.

But if there’s one thing Lindgren is, it’s explosive. The frames below show just how quick he actually is. On the left, just before #37 in blue receives the puck, Lindgren has pushed out, but has slightly elevated his pad to correct his trajectory. On the right, just as #37 in blue release the puck, Lindgren has taken up a significantly larger portion of the net than he previously had. Notice where Lindgren’s left pad sits. First, it’s perpendicular to the goal line. Two frames later, the pad is elevated and in the midst of extending across.

The shooter gets decent elevation under the shot, but Lindgren’s extension and glove hand take the space away. Although Lindgren doesn’t make a clean glove save, his downward motion enables him to quickly freeze the puck.

Look at the depth and extension in the splits Lindgren achieves:

And here’s the save in its full glory once more:

This is sequence that sums up Lindgren quite well. He tracks the puck exceptionally well, his footwork is clean and precise, and he’s quick at dropping in and out of position. And to top it off, if something doesn’t go to plan, his explosiveness and acrobatic nature will allow him to make the stop.

The Report

While Lindgren’s .914 SV% isn’t world beating, it was seventh among all goaltenders who played at least 40 games. The IceCaps were 25th of 30 teams in SOG differential, meaning Lindgren was a seeing a ton of rubber. He was up-and-down at times, but otherwise gave the IceCaps a chance to win every time he was in the net.

Lindgren is a distinctly acrobatic goaltender. He makes routine saves flashy, and loves a well-timed poke check or a two-pad stack. Raw explosiveness and a battling attitude make Lindgren a puck stopping machine down low. He plays his angles well, but isn’t particularly aggressive with coming out of the net. He plays decently high in the crease, but seems most comfortable while sitting a hair further back than most.

Well-positioned glove and blocker are complemented by top-notch fast-twitch reactions. Not a goaltender who allows many soft goals, instead finds himself being the victim of his explosiveness and aggression. Seems to pull off at least one or two highlight reel glove saves per-game. Blocker side is quick and precise, and has an abnormally large collection of full-extension blocker saves. Limiting second chances will be key going forward, but he’s also made notable improvement with his positioning.

Puck tracking and ability to fight through traffic are both major strengths of his. Puck tracking is particularly strong in the way that he deals with behind the net plays, where he’s poised and well-positioned. He maximizes eye sight on the puck, while always having the presence of mind to peek in the slot for attackers. A full-effort tracker, he quickly moves up and down to scan as many planes as possible. Puckhandling is average, but he isn’t particularly adventurous, preferring to defer puck movement to his defencemen.

Lindgren’s SV% was .014 notches higher than his backup, Yann Danis—a decorated AHL tender for more than a decade. It’s really a testament to Lindgren’s skill. As a believer in Lindgren’s NHL-readiness last season, I absolutely think he’s ready now. He will battle Al Montoya for the backup spot.

Ranking Explanation: Lindgren begins Tier #2. It’s a small tier of two prospects–two prospects who have similar upside to Tier #3, being likely third liners or bottom pairing defencemen if they make the NHL. The distinction between the two tiers is résumé: Both Lindgren and the prospect at #5 have rather fantastic histories, but I remain concerned about upside, or in Lindgren’s case, the volatility that comes with the goaltending position.

I debated back-and-forth between McNiven and Lindgren a fair bit, even though McNiven is #11. Once again, a reminder not to take the rankings too seriously. The difference is merely track record. Although CHL Goaltender of the Year, McNiven, is great, too. McNiven is a significantly better puckhandler than Lindgren, while the rest of their games are about equal. The decision was two-fold, one as a product of the structure of the tiers, and two that McNiven’s transition to professional career remains unknown, whereas Lindgren’s has been fantastic.

 

Notes:

  1. All the information is “in my opinion.
  2. The ranking likely has limited-to-no value. Think of the ranking as a way to catalogue players, notes, and data in a non-alphabetical way. The information within the profiles is far, far more valuable.
  3. I mentioned I’m not a scout right? If not, I’m not a scout.
  4. I appreciate all questions, comments, and criticism. You can reach me on Twitter (@MitchLBrown) or email (mitchbrown31@gmail.com). You can also tell me I suck. I don’t care.
  5. AHL/CHL/USHL Stats: Prospect-Stats.com | NCAA Stats: CollegeHockeyInc.com | SuperElit Stats: Stats.SweHockey.se | NHL Stats: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com

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