NHL 23: Complete Goalie Guide, Controls, Tutorial, and Tips

Learn how to play as the goalie in NHL 23 and get some top tips to help you in net.

Goaltenders are the most important players on the ice for any team, with there only being a very fine margin for error to allow any netminder to be of us. They are the difference makers more often than not.

In NHL 23, goaltenders are even more critical as, for the most part, you have to rely on their attributes to do the job. However, one of the most novel experiences of NHL 23 is playing as the goalie. It’s a very tough position to master, despite the relatively easy-to-grasp controls.

So, to help you find your footing in the crease and become a decent goaltender in NHL 23, here are all of the controls, tips, and lists of the best goaltenders that you need to know.

How to play as the goalie in NHL 23

You can play as the goaltender in just about any game mode in NHL 23. In the position-oriented game mode Be A Pro Career, you’ll always play as the goalie if you select it as your player’s position. You can also fix yourself to the goalie in regular games as well.

On the select sides page, move your controller to the team that you want to play as and then press L3 to “Lock Position.” When a small yellow “G” shows next to your controller, this means that you’ll play as the goalie in that game.

How to switch to the goalie during a game

To switch to the goalie during a game, press L1+X or LB+A. This will activate the toggle manual goalie controls, giving you control of the goaltender and unlocking their full set of controls.

NHL 23 goalie controls list (PlayStation and Xbox)

These are all of the NHL 23 goaltending controls that you need to know to play as a goalie in a game.

Action PS4 & PS5 Controls Xbox One & Series X|S Controls
Toggle Manual Goalie L1 + X LB + A
Change Camera View Touchpad View
Move Goalie L L
Butterfly R2 (hold) RT (hold)
Paddle Down R2 (hold) + X RT (hold) + A
Hug Left Post L1 + L (left) LB + L (left)
Hug Right Post L1 + L (right) LB + L (right)
Hug Post (VH) L1 + L (left) or L (right) + R2 LB + L (left) or L (right) + RT
Precision Modifier L2 LT
Diving Save Square + L (left) or L (right) X + L (left) or L (right)
Diving Poke Check Square + L (up) X + L (up)
Spread V R (away from the puck) R (away from the puck)
Stack Pads Circle + L (left) or L (right) B + L (left) or L (right)
Butterfly Slides R (lateral to the puck) R (lateral to the puck)
Poke Check R (upwards) R (upwards)
Cover Puck Triangle (hold) Y (hold)
Free Skate X A
Dump Puck R (upwards) R (upwards)
Pass Puck R2 RT
Leave Puck for Teammate L2 LT
Pull & Replace Goalie L2 + Touchpad LT + View

NHL 23 goalie tips

1. Use Goalie Practice to hone your skills

From the NHL 23 main menu, switch to the More tab, scroll down to Training and Practice, and then select Goalie Practice. Here, you’ll play as the goalie and can select the scenario, number of offensive players, and number of defensive players.

So, if you want to improve on your one-on-one goaltending, select the Rush scenario – one offensive player, and zero defensive players. It’s also a good idea to primarily use short-handed scenarios when practising to be a goaltender in NHL 23 as you’ll get more high-value scoring opportunities to test yourself against.

In the Goalie Practice mode, you’ll get loads of helpful information to allow you to get into the rhythm of being a netminder. If you have the Adaptive On-Ice Trainer switched on within the Quick Settings of the menu, you’ll be shown what areas you are and aren’t covering, as well as prompts for how to react properly.

2. Make post hugging the first skill that you master

It’s quite rare that you’ll be one-on-one or facing down a skater coming through the slot head-on, with most dangerous attempts and plays usually coming down the wings, in and closer than the faceoff circles. So, one of the easiest and most fundamental skills to get used to using is hugging the post.

Start by learning how to use a standing post hug, which is done by pressing L1 or LB and then using the left analogue to direct you to either post. It’s a slow move to get out of, and these controls aren’t overly fluid if you need to switch sides, but getting to grips with how and when to hug the post is key.

3. Develop into a more fluid post-to-post hugger

The standard controls for post hugging are relatively slow, but usually see you stopping any shot that aims for the near post as your whole body will cover the strong side and cut off a narrow angle to the back. Still, with there being so many fluid puck-movers in the game, you’ll want to develop into a more mobile goalie.

To do this, develop from the standard post hug controls to the fluid Hug Post VH controls (L1+L+R2 or LB+L+RT). So, you set-up with the post hug as a standard, but holding R2 or RT then allows you to crawl more quickly between the posts while also covering more of the mid-to-low angles.

4. Always have the right analogue at the ready

Most of your NHL 23 goaltending controls focus will be on the left analogue and bumpers or triggers, but you’ll always want to have your thumb on the right analogue so that you’re ready to use the goalie’s massive hockey stick and perform last-ditch butterfly slides.

By flicking the right analogue upwards, you’ll attempt a poke check. By shifting it to the left or right, you’ll perform swift, but quite far-ranging butterfly slides. So, if a skater is getting too close for comfort, chuck the stick at them. If they evade your effort, you can flick to the other side of the goal to stop their likely attempt at your weak side.

5. Decide on your starting set-up

It should be noted that using the right analogue while in butterfly (hold R2 or RT) makes the movement very slow and minimal – making it easy for a skater to send you the wrong way. While many NHL gamers like to setup with butterfly at the ready as the default, it’s best to either commit to the reactionary saves of just using the left analogue and right analogue if that’s how you’d prefer to play.

However, there is a middle ground between the slow combination of butterfly and the right analogue and the sporadic set of starting with just the two analogues in play. By using what was learned above, setting up with the L1+L+R2+R or LB+L+RT+R buttons held and analogues in use, you’ll have post hugging covered, be fairly quick across the crease, and be ready to perform those late stabs at the puck or swift butterfly slides.

6. Your main job is to be in the right place at all times

If you’re starting out as a goaltender in NHL 23, your main aim is to learn how to be in the right place at the right time. This will come down to small movements with the left analogue, having your goalie set being to your preference (starting in butterfly, free skating, or a VH hug post stance), and knowing when to kick out. The goalie’s body should make most of the blocks, so you need to be closing down the angles of the net to do so.

Much of the save making is governed by your goalie’s attribute ratings. As such, not only do you ideally want a netminder with high five hole, glove high, glove low, stick high, and stick low ratings, but this also means that your main task is to put the goalie in the best positions to make easy saves with those reflexes. Once you’ve got that locked down, then maybe learn flashy moves like the diving save, diving poke check, and pad stack.

All of the best goalies

Based on their overall ratings, these are the best goalies in NHL 23, with Andrei Vasilevskiy being the very best of the bunch as of the early release date of October 10.

Goaltender Overall Age Type Gloves Zone Ability Team
Andre Vasilevsky 94 28 Hybrid Left Contortionist Tampa Bay Lightning
Igor Shesterkin 92 26 Hybrid Left Butterfly Effect New York Rangers
John Gibson 90 29 Hybrid Left None Anaheim Ducks
Jacob Markstrom 90 32 Hybrid Left Dialed In Calgary Flames
Conno Hellebuyck 90 29 Hybrid Left None Winnipeg Jets
Frederik Andersen 89 32 Hybrid Left None Carolina Hurricanes
Juuse Saros 89 27 Hybrid Left Post to Post Nashville Predators
Thatcher Demko 89 26 Hybrid Left None Vancouver Canucks
Sergei Bobrovsky 88 33 Hybrid Left None Florida Panthers
Ilya Sorokin 88 27 Hybrid Left None New York Islanders

Are there butterfly goalies in NHL 23?

As of the early release trial date (October 10), there are no butterfly goalies in NHL 23. In fact, every goalie on each NHL team is a hybrid goalie.

The best right-handed goalies in NHL 23

Want to throw a spanner in the works for all of those players used to targeting the high stick side of lefties in NHL 23? Get yourself one of the best right-handed goalies, as shown below.

Goaltender Overall Age Gloves Potential Type Team
Cal Petersen 84 27 Right Starter Med Hybrid Los Angeles Kings
Pavel Francouz 84 32 Right Fringe Starter Med Hybrid Colorado Avalanche
Karel Vejmelka 83 26 Right Starter Med Hybrid Arizona Coyotes
Charlie Lindgren 79 28 Right Fringe Starter Med Hybrid Washington Capitals
Logan Thompson 79 25 Right Fringe Starter Low Hybrid Vegas Golden Knights

How to teddy bear roll as a goalie

Teddy bear roll being used in NHL 22’s Training mode.

To teddy bear roll as the goalie in NHL 23, you’ll need to stack pads (hold Circle or B and then left or right on the left analogue) and then swing to the opposite side (left or right with the left analogue).

Not always the most effective move if your positioning is off, the teddy bear roll is certainly a flashy and fun goaltending manoeuvre to attempt. You just need to remember to release Circle or B if you want to return to your regular stance or move across the crease.

NHL 23 goalies with Zone Ability X-Factors

Many goaltenders have the new Superstar Abilities, but only a handful have the special Zone Abilities, which are usually reserved for the best of the best. Here are the NHL 23 goalies with a Zone Ability X-Factor.

Goaltender Zone Ability Description Overall Team
Jacob Markstrom Dialed In Exceptional boost in reaction time, recovery, and save ability after making 15 saves in a game. 90 Calgary Flames
Juuse Saros Post to Post Exceptional boost in reaction time, recovery, and save ability when going post to post. 89 Nashville Predators
Igor Shesterkin Butterfly Effect Exceptional reflexes when dropping and making low saves in butterfly. 92 New York Rangers
Andrei Vasilevskiy Contortionist Exceptional save range, recovery, and save ability while in spread-V with or against momentum. 94 Tampa Bay Lightning

Hopefully, these goaltending controls, tips, and lists of the best goalies in NHL 23 will help you to dominate in the net.

Take a look at our complete NHL 23 control guide.

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