Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

The Understudy knows all the parts: Jason LaBarbera

I wonder if Jason LaBarbera wakes up at 3AM and wonders about how he arrived where he is right now. He’s Mike Smith’s backup, and a goalie who’s been on both teams in the Western Conference finals. (For the bar bet of the week, he’s also tended goal for the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers.) He’s been the #1 goalie in the minors, but other than one season with the LA Kings, he’s played understudy.

Being the backup is a precarious act. The goalie has to be good enough to be there, not wilt on the vine if they don’t play for weeks on end, but be able to come in and take the helm if there’s an injury. They’re also likely to have to come into a game in a hurry, and expected to keep the game under control. All this, and keep a good attitude about their role.

Good backups seem to pop up more often than not as an analyst post-retirement. This is probably equal parts of the career backup’s personality, lots of chances to watch the game from the bench, and more than a bit of doing play by play into their catching glove.

Erik Duhatschek provides a look at Jason LaBarbera, and LaBarbera’s views on the Western Conference Final goaltending:

Arguably, no one knows the goaltending matchup in the Phoenix Coyotes-Los Angeles Kings playoff series better than Jason Labarbera, who was in the Kings’ organization when Jonathan Quick was just coming up and now backs up Mike Smith with the Coyotes.

It was Labarbera incidentally who came up with that funny and involved postgame celebration that he and Smith perform whenever the Coyotes win a game. Phoenix will be after its first victory of the series when the teams re-engage tonight at Jobing.com Arena on a day when the local weather forecasters have issued an extreme heat warning for the area, with temperatures exceeding 40C later today.

 

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Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: coyotes.+kings, goalie, jason+labarbera

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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!