The ability to review film in sports is all but tape nowadays. With the growth of digital technology, long gone are the days of watching actual film. Now, it’s watching digital downloads on a tablet or streaming video from the cloud. The Nashville Predators have been greatly utilizing technology improvements to work with their goalies, Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton. In today’s NHL, the ability to immediately communicate with players is vital. For Nashville, it all began in the pre-season.
“In training camp, we filmed every session and broke it down so they could see themselves going through the drills,” said head goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok. “They could see the holes and different techniques and what the puck actually sees. The opportunities we have being in the National Hockey League are just great from an operations stand point in just pre-scouting opponents and shootouts and that sort of thing. There are just some phenomenal tools that we get to use.”
The video coaching staff, led by Lawrence Feloney, is constantly working to provide the team with video and analysis from all angles. When any little piece of information can help put you one step ahead of the opposing team, providing the right analysis at the right time is vital to success and development.
“Our video guys are outstanding at what they do,” said Vanderklok. “The resources we have to prepare our goalies on our opponents to show them what we want to show them is phenomenal. We have different programs where if we’re playing back-to-back games and we don’t have time to discuss, I can send them video through a program with all of my marks and comments. I can illustrate and add text to it, so it’s great from that standpoint. In person, we have the video programs to sit down and cut stuff out and go frame by frame. We can go to sixteen frames in a second and really break it down.”
Especially when it comes to goaltending, where split second decisions can mean a save made or a goal against, being able to slow down video to sixteen frames in a second can make a difference. With the detailed work that Vanderklok has been putting in with the Predators goaltenders, having video immediately available is something that a veteran like Pekka Rinne appreciates.
“Our videos coaches do an unbelievable job,” said Rinne. “We have three of those guys and they work pretty much 24/7. They have all the clips you’ll ever need and they break it down so it’s easy for you to watch. You can just pick and choose whatever you want to watch. It provides a lot of information and information on other team, too. For example, the shootout and other team’s power plays and what they do. As a goalie, you can watch any single shot and how you play the puck. It’s obviously something in our organization that they really pay attention to.
Rinne is the consummate professional when it comes to enacting the changes that Vanderklok wants to see. With travel and sometimes back-to-back games, the team isn’t always able to practice and Vanderklok needs to be able to make adjustments simply based on video.
“Technology is a huge way to teach and a huge way for Pekka and myself, especially with how much he’s played,” said Vanderklok. “We don’t get every day to physically go on the ice and work on it. With Pekka being able to implement so much, it comes from having dialog through video with him. The next game, he’s made those adjustments and we never even hit the ice to do it. I think video is critical, especially when you’re trying to show them how to work on new things. It just comes much clearer when they can see it.”
Much of the time, it easy to forget how deep an organization is when it comes to its successes. Along with Lawrence Feloney, Jeremy Coupal and J.P. Buckley work on the video staff. Without their expertise, Vanderklok would not be able to work as closely and as detailed with the goaltenders of the Nashville Predators. As the season progresses, it’s always important to remember how many people are involved in the organization’s success. They have already proven pivotal in Rinne having most arguably the best season of his career.
Photo credit: Sarah Fuqua