Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Chicago goaltending is like leftover breakfast oatmeal: cold and lumpy

All across Canada this morning, children everywhere were clamoring for oatmeal with berries for their breakfast, after hearing about Sam Gagner’s morning meal.

Meanwhile, in the Chicagoland area, children were seriously reconsidering their breakfast options, especially if they’re playing goal.

Every NHL goalie has one game a season that comes under the moniker of “not a demo reel night”. The trick is keeping the blowouts and belly-ups down to a minimum, and the Chicago goaltending duo of Crawford and Emery are hovering dangerously close, if not already having crossed that line.


There aren’t too many options; stand pat, trade for a goalie, or bring a goalie up from Rockford. Salak, who was sent down to Rockford when Emery was signed, has spent a goodly portion of the mid-season out with the left leg injury. Carter Hutton is now the go-to guy for the Ice Hogs, and while he has the experience, I’m not sure hee answer to the question being asked.

Shopping in the NHL? There aren’t teams who are willing to cut a deal who have a better goalie than who are currently playing. Niittymaki is being shopped around, but having been out as long as he has, and with not a lot of current data to go on, is he worth what the Blackhawks would have to offer?  The Blackhawks could go shopping for prospects in other organizations (and Abbotsford looks like “Goalies R Us” right now), but that will require that the parent club is interested in talking, that the prospect is better than what’s in the Blackhawks organization, and that Bowman is willing to give up more than he would have six month ago to shore up the goaltending?

And the kicker—how badly are the Blackhawks interested in a possible short term fix that likely to land them back where they started next season?

Standing pat? That’s the option where Joel Quenneville has the office manager looking into pallet load orders of Famotidine tablets. Waiting for one or both goalies to snap back to form is a painful and seems to invoke time dilation, at least at the press conferences after the game. One of the issues here is that the St Louis BLues are back, Nashville is refusing to go away, and Detroit is, well, Detroit. There’s not a lot of margin for error, because the difference between 4th and 9th place will close in during February and March.

Not a lot of happiness on Madison these days. The Blackhawks play Calgary tonight, and the outcome may determine what happens next.

Tim Sassone from the Chicago Daily Herald has his say on the current situation:

For the second time in two trips to Edmonton, the Blackhawks embarrassed themselves.

As if losing 9-2 at Rexall Place in November wasn’t bad enough, the Hawks were just as awful Thursday night in an 8-4 loss that could have ramifications on the rest of the season, starting in goal.

Corey Crawford, the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie all year, played one of his worst games of the season, blowing a 2-0 second-period lead and getting pulled in the third.

Crawford was swimming in his crease all night and now may take a seat behind Ray Emery, who figures to get a crack from here to win the starting job for the stretch run.

Oilers center Sam Gagner, who has been the subject of trade rumors in Edmonton, had an incredible 8-point night with 4 goals and 4 assists as the Oilers handed the staggering Hawks their fourth straight loss.

Gagner’s 8 points tied the Oilers’ club record held by Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey and was the first 8-point game in the NHL since Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux did it in 1988.

“I think this is a joke,” said a stunned Gagner.

The Hawks were a mess defensively again, which should force general manager Stan Bowman to step up his efforts to improve his roster — a task that is possibly looming larger than anyone thought.




Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: blackhawks, bowman, crawford, emery, quenneville



Call up huet

Posted by Nick on 02/04/12 at 02:05 AM ET

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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!