Twenty years later the Bauer Reactor is back

Bauer Reactor 4000 Sr. Goalie Pads

Bauer Reactor 4000 Sr. Goalie Pads

Back in 1994 goaltenders wearing Bauer goal pads were all wearing the Reactor line. Big names like Dominik Hasek and Mike Richter were sporting the equipment and leading the NHL in the gear. 20 years later Bauer has come back to the Reactor.

Serving as an extension and evolution of the Reflex line of goal pads that was developed when Bauer and Itech merged, the Reactor is a pro-style butterfly pad that is specifically designed for a hybrid style of play. Unlike the Supreme TotalOne line which is a true butterfly style, flat-faced pad, the Reactor is more of a hybrid style pad. Bauer even gave the style associated with the Reactor a buzzword in their 2013 catalog: Battlefly.

That seems like an appropriate way to describe the pad and the style of the goaltenders that would wear this type of pad. Just looking at some of the players around the league wearing them now (Brian Elliott and Ilya Bryzgalov), they employ a butterfly-first mentality but use various pieces of other styles in their repertoire.

These are flexible pads that introduce a triangle outer roll which puts a slight pitch on the outer roll of the pads. The 6000 Pro Custom pads also come stock with a double knee break but different break options are available on the pad.

Beyond the 6000 Pro model, the 4000 and 4000x offer top-end performance without needing a custom build. The 4000x actually utilized the myFlex feature that is prevalent throughout the TotalOne line. This is a piece of technology that allows the goaltender to determine what kind of flex option they wish to have on their pads.

The newest introduction to the Reactor line is the Pro Core insert. This serves as the “brain” of the pad that is designed to give a soft feel to the pad but maintaining the firmness needed to maintain a proper S-shape and limit the pad from breaking down over time. Combined with the triangle outer roll and the reintroduction of the Flexx Darts gives the Reactor pad a phenomenal blend of traditional construction that creates a flexible lightweight pad that is conducive to a number of different styles.

In terms of the eye test, the Reactor passes with flying colors. Bauer built off the Reflex pattern while extending the graphic upwards. This creates a dynamic, linear graphic that looks good in a number of styles.

Looking at the overall construction and appearance of the pad, this reminds me of what the Velocity was when it was first introduced. A soft, reactive pad that allows a goaltender to play a number of styles.

There are three models in the Reactor line; the 6000 Pro, 4000 and 2000. The 4000 and 2000 each have a senior model with the 2000 covering junior pads. The glove and blocker aren’t too far removed from the Reflex line in design and use. Both draw their lineage to the flexible leg pads by offering flexible cuff options that will react well when used with your chest & arm protector.

The catch glove is a single-T pocket construction with skate lace for the pocket lacing. Skate lace is more durable than regular twine lacing but can be more difficult to keep in shape. As for the blocker, the one piece thumb and outer hand protection really stands out. It is not obtrusive and has a good looking construction in terms of offer complete protection and coverage.

As someone who counts the original Reactor line amongst my favorite goal pads of all time, I’m glad to see this equipment make a comeback; particularly in a style that suits the kind of game I try to play.

NHL goal mask rankings: The top ten

NHL goal mask rankings: The top ten

NHL goal mask rankings: The top ten

After giving you the rundown of the rest of the league’s goal masks, I give you the best of the best. These are masks with varying levels of detail and uniqueness. Each of these stand out to me for a different reason and rank amongst my favorite in the entire league.

Share your thoughts on who has the league’s best mask in the comments.

10. Ryan Miller – Miller’s mask was getting stale until he updated last season. Adding the Buffalo script to the chin and the charging Buffalo to either side of the chin updated what is becoming a very iconic design. The question is, will you see this design in Buffalo next season?

9. Jhonas Enroth – His crease partner is just one spot below and I give Enroth the edge because of the clean lines and incorporation of a number of design features by his mask artist. Parts of this can get busy, but the longhorn skull has been a mainstay on many old Sabres helmets and the oversized logo gives the left side a clean, basic look.

8. Jimmy Howard – Racing stripes, 60s-era Mustangs and a very unique take on Detroit’s muscle car heritage give Howard a very cool design. I’m a big fan of this mask and the player who sports it.

7. Ray Emery – Emery’s mask manages to pay homage to Native American culture in a very classy way. I think his mask looks phenomenal and is easily interpreted at a distance and up close.

6. Miikka Kiprusoff – Kipper’s skulls are just about as iconic as Marty Broduer’s mask in many ways. This particular version really stood out to me when he unveiled it and I’m glad he’s still using it. I can find no flaws in the design and using the bolts as eyes on the chin skull is a great touch.

5. Jose Theodore – Theodore has always had masks that I’ve liked. For some reason this one is very appealing to me. I like the Tiki skull features that have been worked in and the white base makes the other colors pop. I think this plays so well on so many levels.

4. Jacob Markstrom – A slightly altered interpretation of one of hockey’s greatest goal masks of all time. Markstrom’s mask has a little more of the entire logo worked in, but it still has the same feel that Beezer’s mask did back it the 90s. A very well executed paint job.

3. Peter Budaj – Ned Flanders. Need I say more? Budaj manages to work in two very personal items (Flanders and Lionel Messi) into his mask while also keeping a clean look. I love the way this paint job works and that’s why it is in my top three.

2. Brian Elliott – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a big part of my upbringing and it would appear the same is true of Brian Elliot. I love that he uses Casey Jones on his masks. They also manage to have a heavy team element too, which puts this high on my list.

1. Ondrej Pavelec – When I first did this list I wasn’t sure which mask was truly my favorite. I tossed around a few up near the top of the rankings but I settled on Pavelec for a few reasons. First; the fighter jet interpretation works incredibly well here (much better than Montoya’s). Second; every line is clean and although there is a lot going on, there is nothing that runs together. Third; This just has attitude to it. The fighter jet theme just works so well in this particular paint job and that’s why I have it as number one.

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing will be a new feature for the Great Skate Blog which will focus in on the gear being worn by players from around the NHL. These posts will focus on both skaters and goaltenders so both groups of players are well represented. Hopefully this series not only gives you a better idea of what your favorite players are wearing, but clue you in to which gear you may be looking to pick up the next time you’re at Great Skate.

My first target for WTW is Mikhail Grigorenko, the top prospect in the Sabres system. He was up and down with the big blub this year but managed to wear quite a bit of gear during his time. This breakdown is based on his final game of the year against the Islanders, but I will reference a few other games too.

Skates: Bauer Supreme TotalOne

One of the few pieces of gear he didn’t change at any point during his time with the Sabres. A solid skate with a tough, rigid construction, the TotalOne is immensely popular at the NHL level and there are a number of models in the Supreme line available at Great Skate.

Gloves: Bauer 4-Roll

Grigorenko was quite loyal to the Bauer Supreme TotalOne glove for most of the season but was sporting the 4-Roll for the season finale on April 26 (see entry image). Both gloves are great choices. The 4-roll is a classic fit that is more or less the go-to for most professionals. It is a clean, traditional look with a clean, traditional fit. The Supreme is design for maximum ergonomic feel and responsiveness and moves beautifully with your hand when playing. For a gifted playmaker like Grigorenko, the TotalOne makes a whole lot of sense. Of course, you can never go wrong with the 4-roll.

Helmet: CCM Vector 08 with Oakley Pro Straight visor

Grigroenko sports the wildly popular CCM Vector shell with a Oakley Pro Straight visor. The Pro Straight is used by just about every NHLer who wears a visor and provides excellent clarity to the wearer. Grigorenko uses the 08 Vector with a more traditional foam liner rather than the EPP foam with the heat molded pad liner that is found on the Vector 10 model. Either way, it is a good looking helmet and one that I’ve been seriously contemplating for a purchase for some time.

Stick: Warrior Covert DT1 (white)

This is the reason I wanted to choose Grigorenko for this first installment. He has used a number of sticks throughout the season. While I can’t be sure, he may have been trying out an RBZ at one point as well. However, there is proof of him using the Covert throughout the year and in the final game. What is very interesting is that he’s switched sticks in the middle of games at times. Against the Rangers he went from the Covert to an APX and it wasn’t the first time I picked up on it. He also used a TotalOne early in the year.

While I’m fascinated by his choice to just rotate sticks whenever he wanted (he is a pro after all) I think the all-white Covert looks awesome. The Dagger Taper on the Covert is an awesome feature and I’m a sucker for all-white sticks. Great choice if you ask me.

Feel free to leave your recommendation for the next edition of WTW in the comments.

Industry Q&A with Mike Mountain about the new Easton VSeries sticks

Easton V - Series Composite Hockey Sticks

The Easton V – Series Composite Hockey Sticks. coming soon to Greatskate.com

A new feature for the blog, we will be sitting down with professional hockey players and industry professionals for a series of Q&As. For our first Q&A we were granted an exclusive opportunity to as Mike Mountain of Easton Hockey a few questions about their newest stick line, the VSeries.

Great Skate: Easton has always managed to raise the bar with each stick they release. What about the new stick line, that you can share, will raise the bar again?

Mike Mountain: The VSeries is really a product of a couple years working with premier shooting instructors and getting a better understanding of shooting mechanics.  We wanted to understand what makes the best goal scorers and then build a product that works with that technique better than anything out there.  We learned that the best players are loading the blade and shooting the puck off the toe.  Our engineers then created the patent pending Hypertoe construction.  It is a series of tapered ribs in the toe of the blade to create additional stiffness and response.

 GS: The Art of Speed is the tagline Easton has been using on the new gear coming out, including the new Mako Skates. Is it safe to say the new stick line will build on the Art of Speed legacy?

MM: Speed is at the core of everything we do.  In sticks we are focused on velocity.  How you achieve it is to create load and release in both the shaft and blade.  Everything that went into the line from patterns and flex’s to coatings and stick lengths are done to create load and release for a maximum velocity.

 GS: Is it correct that the V9E will be the flagship of the new stick line or will there be another model to accompany it?

MM: The V9E and V9 will headline the VSeries.  Both sticks will have the Hypertoe construction in the blade while the V9E will have the elliptical profile and the V9 will have a tapered profile.

GS: It has been cool to see various NHLers using prototype sticks this season without any logos. What can we expect with the V9E color and logo scheme?

MM: You will see those same players transition to the new look in the first round of the playoffs.  We wanted them to truly feel the difference of the new construction and not be swayed by graphics.  The response we got was great in terms of a noticeable performance advantage.

GS: Will the VSeries carry the matte look that the Stealth line has popularized?

MM: They will, we have also added a textured shaft coating that goes along with it.

 GS: In addition to the elliptical profile on the V9E will there also be a model with a traditional taper too?

MM: The VSeries will include a V9E, V5E and V1E with an elliptical profile as well as a V9, V7 and V3 with a tapered profile.

GS: What’s your favorite feature or addition about the new line?

MM: We have added a new pattern to our line, the E36.  It is a lie 5 mid curve with a dual lie and slightly open face.  Like the E28, this pattern forces your hands in the correct position in front of the puck while positioning the heel slightly off the ice in order to load the blade.  The junior version has been engineered specifically for younger players with the curve slightly towards the toe to provide better control.  So far the reception to this pattern has been phenomenal with players.

Bauer Supreme line offers anatomic perfection

Bauer Supreme TotalONE NXG Sr. Shoulder Pads

Bauer Supreme TotalONE NXG Sr. Shoulder Pads

Bauer’s collection of gear for 2013 introduced a plethora of new technology and features that was introduced across three different families of equipment. The Nexus line came aboard with the well-established Vapor and Supreme lines.

Bauer has always been a personal favorite of mine, particularly when it came to protective equipment. I haven’t upgraded my protective gear in a while, but there hasn’t been much need to do so. I’ve been very pleased with my shoulder pads and pants which are both from the Supreme line.

The new Supreme NXG line leads Bauer’s collection of gear designed to provided maximum coverage with a full anatomic fit. Bauer’s basic approach for their most recent collection was to provide a full anatomic line (Supreme), tapered or gradually anatomic collection (Vapor) and a line with a more traditional fit (Nexus).

With the Supreme NXG line, Bauer has built their deepest line (four models to choose from) with many of the design features that stand out to me when I’m shopping for new equipment. For me, protective equipment like shoulder pads and shin guards are more comfortable when they provide a slim, snug fit. This attracts me to anatomically designed gear that moves in unison with your body.

The Supreme shoulder pads come complete with a soft-shell shoulder cap (as is the mandate in the NHL) constructed with Bauer’s Vent Armor Foam. This is a design feature that actually softens impacts by 25% when compared to the former TotalOne model.

Vent Armor Foam is actually prevalent throughout the Supreme line – it is used on the One.8 line as well – and is a feature developed to keep a player cool while adding a firm layer of padding in vital locations. Bauer has also made sure to place Poron XRD padding in vital areas on each piece of equipment in the line.

The Poron XRD is the revolutionary padding that has made the RE-AKT helmet such a revolutionary model. While the Poron XRD padding can only be found on the NXG models, it adds high-impact protection and energy absorption in vital areas like the elbow, knee and sternum.

Looking at the entire line it is clear that the key design features weren’t left off any of the models – including the One.8, One.6  and One.4. The elbow pads and shin guards aren’t as revolutionary to me as the shoulder pads appear to be.

While the shin pads anatomical design offer a terrific mix of protection and comfort, the change isn’t as significant as in the shoulder pad unit. With fully adjustable bicep guards (which can be a pain if they don’t fit properly) and integrated Vent Armor padding in a number of areas, the Supreme NXG shoulder pad is truly the elite piece of gear in this line.

Even going beyond the NXG collection, the “price point” models are also brimming with new technology. The main absentees in the rest of the line is the Poron XRD and Vent Armor Foam. Outside of those main two, the rest of the .8 gear and beyond is right on par with the anatomical protection built for the NXG pads.

As someone who is in the line for a new pair of shin guards and potentially some elbow pads, I think the NXG line may be my first stop when I go into Great Skate this summer.

Round Two Predictions

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators

As round two begins I’d like to offer my prognosticating skills up to you all once again for the four series that will set the stage for the Conference Finals. After missing only two series in the first round (ignore that I lost both of my Cup predicted teams) I fully expect to go 0-for-4 with my second round predictions.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators

The Penguins sudden issues in goal have made them quite vulnerable. Their six-game triumph over the Islanders only lasted that long thanks to the stumbling play of Marc-Andre Fleury. While Tomas Vokoun provided enough stability to close out the series, he can’t be instill all that much confidence in Penguins fans.

Ottawa rolls in off a five game drubbing of the Canadiens in which they received brilliant goaltending and timely scoring from all over their lineup. They face a scary, deep, talented Penguins team which creates matchup nightmares on both sides of the puck. I don’t expect the Alfredsson line to be nearly as effective as they were against Montreal, nor do I expect the Senators to be able to effectively shutdown Pittsburgh’s scorers. However, Craig Anderson provides a decided advantage in net. Penguins in 6

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers

Fresh off a pair of grueling six-game series, both of these teams will be fighting some major fatigue in the second round. One interesting thing to watch will be the durability of each team’s top defensemen. Zdeno Chara was run well over 60 minutes over the past two games out of necessity while the Rangers trot Dan Girardi (and Ryan McDonagh) out for a million minutes by choice.

This series will be all about who is conditioned better and who is capable of surviving beyond another physically grueling series. Goaltending will play a major role here and I like Henrik Lundqvist better than Tuukka Rask. However, I think the Bruins have more firepower than the Rangers and that might just give them the edge. Bruins in 7

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings

The second Original Six showdown of the second round pits a pair of heated rivals against one another. This is a nice treat for hockey purists as the Wings will be heading east next season and severing many of their former divisional rivalries.

To be Frank, the Blackhawks are nearly impossible to matchup against and they’ve been getting steady goaltending along the way. While the Wings have been riding a nice wave of positive momentum, the Blackhawks are a much different beast than the Ducks were. While Jimmy Howard has been sensational, I’m not sure the Wings will be able to insulate him the way they did against Anaheim. Blackhawks in 6

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

A nice little regional matchup that pits a perennial playoff disappointment against last year’s Cup champs. The Sharks have flown under the radar this year but have opened plenty of eyes after sweeping the Canucks. While they have plenty of question marks around them, San Jose has two solid scoring lines and have gotten great goaltending from Antti Niemi.

The Kings scrapped their way through the first round and will need to find some more offense if they hope to get back to the Conference Finals. Jonathan Quick has been stellar yet again and Los Angeles did a great job stifling the Blues. I wonder how they’ll deal with an impressive offensive lineup like the Sharks boast, however. Sharks in seven

New Supreme and Nexus skates give Bauer variety

Bauer Nexus 1000 Sr. Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer Nexus 1000 Sr. Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer’s impressive line of gear for 2013 is like a good Stanley Cup playoff team, deep. There is elite talent, impressive depth and quality across the lineup.

The release of the APX 2 skates has come with plenty of fanfare. The next step in the incredibly popular Vapor line was expected to get plenty of attention but Bauer has two more sets of wheels that should be equally interesting to players.

2013 will see the TotalOne NXG line evolve further along with the introduction of the Nexus skate. Both skate lines offer impressive features that will appeal to a wide range of players. The TotalOne in particular, as Bauer continues to build on a skate line with many equally impressive features to that of the Vapor line.

The newest TotalOne doesn’t come stock with the new Lightspeed 3 TUUK, but it does utilize the TUUK LS Fusion blade. That is the same blade that is sported on the Vapor and is 27% lighter than previous Bauer runners.

Both the TotalOne and Vapor APX also share the same type of Curv composite upper construction. That, when baked, provide a true custom fit around your foot. This isn’t much difference than previous models in the Supreme line which were built with a strong, rigid boot that molded to a comfortable, custom fit after some time in the skate oven.

The key with the Curv composite upper is to eliminate dead space between the heel and ankle area and the boot, thus improving the overall fit. Another addition on the new TotalOne is the flexible tendon guard which combines with Total Edge Comfort to increase range of motion and decrease abrasions and discomfort at the top of the skate.

Perhaps the coolest feature on the new TotalOne is the 3Flex Tongue. Bauer, along with Curv, developed composite inserts that will allow players to customize the flex of the tongue on their skates. As Bauer explains, the inserts are supposed to act like spring boards that react as you flex forward in your skating motion.

Unfortunately the 3Flex tongue can only be found on the TotalOne model although the Curv Composite upper is featured on the One.9 and the One.8 and One.7 each have thermoformable uppers as well.

The skate that I’m most interested in, however is neither the Supreme nor the Vapor but the Nexus line. One the surface it looks like a reincarnation of the legendary Supreme 8000 skates that were the bread and butter for Bauer wearers for the longest time.

Bauer rolled out the Nexus this year as the newest line of gear in their collection and it is quickly becoming the most impressive of the bunch from the skates right up through the elbow pads.

The upper is constructed differently than that of the Vapor or Supreme. Instead of the more rigid composite construction, the Nexus focuses on weight with a fully stitched “tech mesh” quarter package build. I looks just about identical to the durable nylon stitched quarter package builds from the pre-Vapor days and just in terms of a mirror test, really hits home for me.

The Nexus also uses a traditional (in look) retro tan liner. Again, one of those features that ranks high for me in look and set up. The liner itself is hydrophobic. So it is afraid of moisture. This is a great addition as Bauer’s hydrophobic technology is designed to repel moisture and keep your feet, and the skate, dry.

Add in a super thick, traditional felt tongue (perfect for sniper tongues) and Bauer managed to build a very traditional looking skate. When you consider the new features they built into the skate – particularly the unique Deep-V heel fit and this is quite the advanced skate.

From the 800 on down, the Nexus line is quite consistent as well; which means you’re getting more bang for your buck depending on your target price point.

What’s tough about the equipment that Bauer is producing is which line you want to choose. Each one offers so many awesome features and hit on various price points that virtually every player has the ability to use the various advances in the gear tech.

Whether you find one specific line to fit your game or if you like each one, be sure to take a look at the Vapor, Nexus and Supreme gear lines the next time you’re heading out to shop.