Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Goalies: some getting back, some getting over

Here's a quick exercise: Take one of those non-woven paper cleaning cloths. You know, the ones that you'll throw away the first time you have to wipe up something noxious. Get it nice and damp. Now, hold it next to your ear and rip it in half.

Okay, that's what tearning a muscle tear sounds like from the inside. Sprains sound like someone is playing slack key guitar with your ligaments. Breaks sort of pop or crunch depending on how you get them. Dislocations, for some reason, are quieter, but you're usually paying attention to the sudden searing pain where one of your joints has parted ways.

You want to avoid all of these.

Goalies really want to avoid all of these.


Goalies who decided to practice but not play made the decision to trade away a paycheck and season-readiness for a smaller chance of being exhausted before the season ends. Goalies who decide to play elsewhere get paid, get in game shape, but also may end up with no gas in the tank come the end of an intense and compressed season that's being played in addition to the games the goalie played in the other league. That makes for tired goalies.   Tired goalies have an unfortunate tendency to get hurt, and as the season progresses, play hurt until something seriously goes wrong.

Happy is the team who has a strong backup goaltender, because in compressed seasons, there isn't a "plan B" available.

Also happy is the team whose goalie had a good long convalesence from the previous season.  The Lose Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick had surgery for  a nagging herniated disk. From Helene Elliott at the Los Angeles Times:

Goaltender Jonathan Quick never complained while he carried the Kings on his back and became the most valuable player of their Stanley Cup championship run, but he paid a steep price for toting that heavy burden.


A herniated disc that doctors didn't immediately diagnose began pinching his sciatic nerve in March, while the team was making its playoff push, but Quick played through it stoically and superbly. Game after game he kept the low-scoring Kings competitive, boosting them into the final playoff spot in the West and then repelling shot after shot as they rampaged through the playoffs and to a six-game victory over the New Jersey Devils in the Cup final.


And on the other side of the continent, The Tampa Bay Lightning's Anders Lindback is working his way back after getting his knee cut while playing in Europe.  From Damian Cristodero at the Tampa Bay Times:

Anders Lindback's precamp debut was a short one, as the Lightning goaltender on Thursday took only a few shots before leaving the ice to work out in the gym.


Seeing him later with a small bandage on his right knee prompted even more questions about his readiness for Sunday's opening of training camp.

"Everything is well," Lindback said. "I haven't been on the ice for a while, so I want to get into it a little slowly."


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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!