This is remarkable:
In this FiveThirtyEight | Why Gretzky Had It Easy, Neil Paine tries and I think succeeds in explaining why the save percentage has gone up year after year. The reason is: Patrick Roy. I have been watching young goalies since my son started playing hockey, and I am amazed at how different they play to when I played in the era of Dryden. Back then, the butterfly was somewhat controversial still, and goalies who played that way and were beat up high were criticized for that style. Not only that, but we were trained to get back up again fast. Now, goalies are going down and staying down. Where once we tried to stop low shots with the stick or the blade (both relatively small), now goalies have both pads (relatively big) on the ice most of the time. Roy brought that on, or is credited with it, and now all the young goalies (and older ones) play that way.
Paine is right to credit the gear too, for it is alot better. The chest and arm protectors are much better than the old ones, and even the top of the knees and the neck are protected now (not so when I was younger). It makes it a bit easier for the goalie to use more of his or her body to stop the shot. I even think the pads make it much easier to slide around than the old pads ever could. But gear alone isn’t the reason: it is the new style and the training to do it that makes a difference.
I disagree with the title: Gretzky had it easy. Watch the video that Paine shows. Watch how patient Gretzky is with the puck, and how he find the opening, no matter how small. I think he would still be doing the same thing with today’s goaltenders. Other than that, a great piece.