Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Khudobin and Ward in Carolina: No Controversy, Just Goaltending

Sometimes the story is that there's no story. In the case of the Carolina Hurricanes, what's curiously and rather cheerily missing is the story about a goalie controversy.

Yay!

With so many goaltenders in the NHL either playing 70 games in a regular season, or thinking they ought to play at least 70 games, any back-up who is isn't taking the part of gate-opener and trivia answer suddenly becomes the focus of a media-generated controversy.  That's when you watch an interview of the winning goalie start out with a question about the other goalie, as if the game that evening wasn't news enough.

Carolina has decided to let the goalies be the story.

From Luke DeCock at the News Observer:


There is no goalie controversy brewing after Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, merely the first partnership of equals the Hurricanes have had in net for a long time. Khudobin, largely unbothered, made a few key saves among his 17 in the kind of do-no-harm performance that only builds confidence in a backup.

Ward, who played well in Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings, will surely get the start Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins. After that, who knows?

One school of thought would say Ward needs the work, because he is still the No. 1 guy and the schedule has only one back-to-back in the first 10 games. The other would argue that Khudobin played well enough Sunday to deserve another shot sooner rather than later.
For a hockey coach, it’s the best kind of problem to have. Muller even laughed when asked about it.

“We said we would do it one game at a time right now,” Muller said. “We’ve got tough opponents coming up, two explosive offenses and then a back-to-back with L.A. coming back here. We really wanted to not put it on paper too early, but use both of them early on here to stay fresh and see how it evolves.”

Of all the changes the Hurricanes made this offseason – rebuilding the defense, adding veteran forward Radek Dvorak, giving roster spots to deserving young players like Brett Sutter, Riley Nash and Brett Bellemore – none has bigger potential than Khudobin, signed as a free agent after backing up Tuukka Rask for the Boston Bruins last season.

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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!