How to Beat the Goalie: Nilstorp

(Photo by: Steven Christy)

It appears yet another Swedish goaltender is coming overseas to the NHL. Viktor Fasth, the most notable, has done well for himself at the age of 30 being undefeated at this point of the season coming from the Swedish Elite League. Now rising into the NHL is Cristopher Nilstorp, 29, of the Dallas Stars.

Cristopher Nilstorp started out his North American career with the Stars' AHL affiliate, Texas Stars during the lockout. Dallas' intention for signing him to a harmless one year, one million dollar deal was to be a starter in the AHL and see what happens after a season in the United States. But due to a groin injury suffered by Kari Lehtonen, Nilstorp is getting his chance to play in the big leagues. 

Nilstorp suffered a groin injury as well while in Dallas. That injury was his first setback since signing with the Stars.

After being sent to the AHL to recover, Nilstorp has found himself back in the NHL.

Playing with Texas, Nilstorp posted four shutouts and had a record of 16-10-0. It helped to play against the Oklahoma City Barons with their temporary loaded roster to help him develop and face the NHL professionals' shots.

Obviously, the AHL and NHL's speed in play is different, but it helps when young NHLers are being sent to the AHL, so goalies like Nilstorp get a feel for the NHL style when the time comes.

Prior to being signed by the Dallas Stars, Nilstorp played in the Swedish Elite League where he was "one of the best goaltenders in the league," according to Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild. In 2011, Nilstorp won the SEL championship with Farjestad.

Nilstorp is known for being very calm and focused, especially in big moments. His focus on and off the ice is what has made him not only a good goaltender on the ice, but off the ice as well. Rarely will he ever talk to his team mates during a TV timeout, not because he doesn't like them, but rather blocks them out.

At 6'3", Nilstorp plays deep in his net, similar to the other Swedish native Henrik Lundqvist. Nilstorp doesn't come out to cut the angle down often when challenging a shot, but when he does, he stops short from the top of the crease and doesn't fully go on top of it.

Doing so allows him to not have to make as many movements and shortens his distance to the post. With his height, he can get away with it.

Nilstorp has excellent leg reach. Quick movements, size and flexibility is all key to becoming a goaltender in the NHL. He has it right now, but will have to correct a few more things before it is set in stone that he is an NHL goaltender.

Here is how to beat Cristopher Nilstorp.

  • Blocker Side: Nilstorp uses the southpaw–it doesn't mean anything, just a note. He has trouble redirecting the puck away with the stick in his hands. This is his greatest weakness as a rookie in the league.

  • Traffic in front, shoot five hole: Nilstorp tends to leave the five hole open when a player is screening him. He tries to get as much coverage as he can by making his legs as wide as they can when he has lack of vision.

Cristopher Nilstorp's 2012-13 stats

#41 Cristopher Nilstorp 1 3 0 0 .913 2.60