23 Intently Staring Goalies
"If you keep thinking about the last goal. you'll soon be thinking about the next, last goal."
Good advice if you're playing goal. You spend your time thinking about that last goal, and you won't see the next one coming. That extrapolates to playoff games--if you spend your energy thinking about the previous game, you won't have the energy to play well. If you're grumbling to yourself in the next game, you're not paying attention to the play. The puck goes in, and now you have more to dwell on. That's how games can go hyperbolic in a very short time.
There are teams who develop goalies.
There are teams who trade for goalies.
And then there are teams that go through goalies like a bowl of salted peanuts.
The Philadelphia Flyers fall into that last category. Even before Bobrovsky was named a Vezian finalist, there have been questions about the Flyers ability to get and keep even a decent goalie. Even when they trade for what appears to be at least a midlist goaltender, within a season they're either out the door or on their way out of town with a sub .900 save percentage, and a goals against on the wrong side of 2.5.
Here's a sampling of who's been between the pipes in the post-Hextall era:
There was a lot of "Good News/Bad News" in the Chicago Blackhawks chatter in the past few weeks.
The Good News: First in the West, won Presidents Cup, and the team is trending up.
The Bad News: Emery's hurt.
"The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."
I could write a frothy paragraph, but you know, I don't think I could add anything.
Mike Russo at the StarTribune says it all:
Right now, if you look up "Richard Bachman", you're more likely to get an article about Stephen KIng than the Dallas Stars goaltender. And while Stephen King is an immednsely popular author, I have my suspicions he wouldn't make the cut as an NHL goaltender. Maybe Stephen King can meet us halfway and wrote a book featuring a really scary NHL goaltender.Or maybe one where the goalie's psychological gotchas parallel the supernatural badness he's having to face.
And back to reality....
If you watched the trade deadline coverage on TSN/NHL Network/Rogers Sportsnet, their respective trade trackers, monitored Twitter feeds, hung out on Facebook, or otherwise, the biggest story of the day was what didn't happen.
No Luongo Trade
And its little brother:
No Kiprusoff Trade
And wow, James Reimer is being nice about the whole thing (via a headline from the National Post:
"Leafs goalie James Reimer calls lack of trade activity a ‘vote of confidence’"
Randall Munroe of xkcd takes a look at the physics of pucks hitting a goalie, and what can and can't happen.
Here's the full discussion at "what if?"
Goalies are natural-born structural engineers. Given a challenge, they'll figure out a way to make equipment do things that not only were never intended, but until that point, no one else had thought of those intentions. I have seen leg pad that could be patted back into legal size, side padding that flared out on sudden movement, and interior kneepadding that rotated out to cover a five-hole when the goalie went down into a butterfly. It's come a long way since the 1970's when the "modification d'jour" was making culottes out of your goalie pants.
It's proving to be a rough season for NHL goalies, and in the shortened season, having a goalie down is being felt a lot harder across the teams. The lucky teams, like St Louis, had a hot spare such as Jake Allen, who's continuing to carry them forward. Other teams are finding out, like Los Angeles, that their backup, Jonathan Bernier, is ready to take the mantle of the number one goalie for the team.
Some, like the Coyotes, are going to find out if their backup, Jason LaBarbera can gain the confidence of the team. Mike Smith's condition at this time is still unknown, but LaBarbera may be taking over the reins again, sooner than later
There's one area where the advent of improved and lighter goalie equipment made a radical change in goalie behavior that just never seems to be discussed by the tv/radio announcers, and that's fighting. Way back when (and we're talking about when bench clearing brawls weren't punishable by multi-game suspensions) goalies would skate out to the center of the ice, make a game attempt at grappling, and then fall down, hopefully far enough away from the action to keep from getting involved. The old leather pads with the horsehair and who- knows-what stuffing were heavy--especially after they got wet.
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!