Because the Komets have three goaltenders, Charlie Effinger hasn't gotten to play as much as he'd like of late. He's taken the nets one time in the last 11 games, and the rest of the time he's been sitting in the press box or at home.
Is he griping, whining and raising a stink? No, he's trying to be a good teammate. He's also trying to be productive and proactive, using the time to fine-tune parts of his game that might need some extra work. He sees it as an opportunity and not as adversity.
``There's always things I'm trying to improve from week to week,'' Effinger said. ``The biggest thing right now is keeping your confidence up and practice as if it's a game. You have to find that intensity in your game some way so that when you do play you can match the intensity of the game.''
But practice speed is different from game speed by about a factor of 10. If nobody else is skating at top speed, it can be difficult for goalies to maintain the pace they need. That's why Effinger, Kenny Reiter and Marco Cousineau work hard to support each other to maintain their focus.
``A lot of times, too, we work together,'' Effinger said. ``If there is a mistake I felt I made in the last game, Kenny and Marco will go through the drills with me to try to work on that. We are all on board with working on stuff. Sometimes, just by trying new things and working on new things you find strengths and weaknesses in your game you didn't know you had. One of the keys of being a pro is always trying to work on your weaknesses.''
As an example, all three goalies have been working on controlling their rebounds, learning to absorb the puck with their chest and arms as the shots come in so they can hold on to force faceoffs. Slowing the game helps the Komets control their defensive zone better.
They are also working on deflecting shots that come off their pads by using their sticks to raise the pucks off the ice. That way, it's harder for attacking forward to bat rebounds out of the air. The goalies continue to work on controlling the puck behind their net on dump-ins.
``I think Kenny and Marco and I, with the help of Nick (Boucher), we are all trying to coach each other through,'' Effinger said. ``Anaheim hasn't sent their goalie coach down, so we put our minds together and watch video and see what other goaltenders do well as far as what we can improve. It's been great to work with everyone. We don't have goaltending coaches, but we have a lot of goaltending minds that can help, and we can brainstorm with each other.''