23 Intently Staring Goalies
by lsefton on 03/30/12 at 06:25 PM ET
We’re coming up on the end of the season, and some of the teams you wouldn’t have suspected are continuing to make goalie changes and additions, well, because they really don’t have many options:
In the “Where is he now? He’s on the Island!” category, the New York Islanders have signed John Grahame to an end of the season contract. With Nabokov’s injury, the Islanders, who as you remember, started out this season with three goaltenders in tow, are down to one, AL Montoya, and their AHL call-up, Kevin Poulin. The Islanders’ AHL team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, are currently in first place in the Northeast division of the AHL. Signing Grahame appears to be partly giving the Islanders some depth at goal, and an attempt to not mess up the Tigers chances.
And to think, the Islanders will likely start out next season’s training camp with the same mix of goalies they started with this year.
In the “Annnnd…he’s back!...No, he’s out…No, he’s back again” department, Jimmy Howard is expected to make a start against the Nashville Predators. The Red Wings are currently playing for home ice advantage against the Predators, but with the standings so tight, a couple of losses by the Red Wings combined with the Blackhawks waking up, and the Red Wings could be looking at playing the Pacific Division champion, currently the Dallas Stars.
All things considered, that wouldn’t be a bad outcome. However, getting there isn’t what the Red Wings want. and what they really don’t want to have to worry about goaltending at this point in the season. The goaltending becomes much more critical in the playoffs, where they have to win now , and can’t call on past wins. In a short series, there’s no margins, so the Red Wings will be paying close attention to Howard’s health and playing ability in this game.
The “Are two heads better than one?” entry comes from the St Louis Blues tandem, who have reached Tony Esposito’s modern day record of 15 shutouts. The Blues duo have been slow to gain recognition from the press, which took a “this is just a streak” attitude, when they weren’t completely ignoring Halak and Elliott. Now that the Blues are comfortably atop the Central Division and in first place in the Western Conference, they’re a lot more difficult for the press and the schedulers to put on the back burner.
The goaltending duo seem to be making some neurons fry, as they fly in the face of the old argument that you can’t have a duo—someone has to be the definitive #1 goalie. Me, I just look at them as 1 and 1a—both from the same stable, and I can bet on them as a single entry. The Blues are one of the few teams who have the luxury of swapping out goalies in the middle of the game and not give the impression that the game is already lost. In a short series, being able to swap out on the fly may turn out to be a serious asset.
“Go Blue! Okay, so it’s a different Blue”: University of Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick signed an amateur tryout contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets,and immediately headed down the Interstate to back up Allen York in goal.
This is just the latest chapter in the Shawn Hunwick Cinderella story. Hunwick was a walk-on at University of Michigan, and hadn’t played at the collegiate level until two years ago. Now, he’s a Hobey Baker semifinalist, and has a good chance to grab a contract with the Blue Jackets post-season.
One more surprise—he’s 5 ft 6. In an era where “bigger is better” has been the calling card for goaltenders, Hunwick’s just the thing to confound opposing players and bring a little more excitement into the goal crease.
Michigan Radio has more on Hunwick’s career with University of Michigan, and his future in professional hockey
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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies
23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.
On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.
I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.
We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.
It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!