Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Who left the wake-up call for November 1st?

Seems like the goaltending issues are hitting early and hard this season. We have goalies who made late entrances, some whose teams wished they had made late entrances, and some who are coming and going so quickly that the pre-game notes are getting eraser marks.

Luongo isn’t the only goalie who’s hitting the snooze button in October, Ilya Bryzgalov is off to a somnolent start as well, as Sam Carchidi at philly.com reports:

Maybe it’s playing behind a new defense. Or maybe it’s because he has faced mostly Eastern Conference teams and is unfamiliar with their tendencies. Whatever the reason, new Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov conceded he hasn’t felt sharp in the early going.

“I’m happy with the team overall, but not with my performance,” Bryzgalov said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees. “It’s still not there. Some parts of my game, I’m still trying to find.”     Specifically?     “I just don’t feel right,” said Bryzgalov, who is expected to get the call Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues.        


Too bad the Sharks don’t need any goaltending right now—they hardly played at all the first half of October, and most of their games this month are coming up in this last full week. They could have taken on both Bryzgalov and Luongo, and no one would have noticed anything untoward.

Unfortunately for Luongo, he’s playing for the Canucks, who most definitely have a number of games in October. Schneider is getting quite the workout while Luongo’s biological clock keeps ticking towards November. Maybe he’s like a Christmas Cactus—you should sit him in a dark room for 18 hours a day starting a week or two before the season starts, then he’ll bloom on time!

Given everything up to and including cognitive therapy hasn’t done the trick, the Canucks have to be breathing a sigh of relief that Schneider has proven himself up to the task of backstopping the Canucks. As The Province reports:

Cory Schneider is in, and Roberto Luongo is out.

It seems we will be hearing that more and more.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault will start Schneider for the third time this season on Saturday.

Last year, Schneider started only four times in the season’s first nine weeks.

"I like getting into a rhythm of some kind," Schneider said. "I felt I got some good action against Detroit. That’s been over a week (ago).

"So it will be good to get some shots again. It’s always nice to play and not have to practise for a month straight."

Schneider has a 2.03 GAA and a .935 save percentage. What he doesn’t have is the baggage Luongo is carrying.

From the crowd’s reaction when Schneider’s name was announced on today’s game versus the Wild, sounds like the fans are pretty much okay with Schneider in goal. This will be an interesting one to watch play out.

And if they could blame in on October, the Columbus Blue Jackets would happily flip the calendar to November. Steve Mason isn’t playing up to par, and their backups are falling like so many dominos:

Mathieu Corbeil was with the Blue Jackets yesterday on an emergency recall basis, meaning he is required to be returned to his junior club within 24 hours. He served as the backup to Steve Mason before heading back to Saint John (QMJHL) this morning.

Corbeil’s flight to Toronto was delayed due to a flat tire, and he didn’t arrive until after the morning skate yesterday. After a whirlwind 24 hours that saw three planes, a hotel, a rink and a professional hockey game, the experience was worth it for the young goaltender.

“I didn’t even know you could do that,” Corbeil told BlueJackets.com yesterday. “I guess everything is possible. When I heard the news, I was extremely excited. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“At the hotel yesterday, I got to nap and that’s the only sleep I had in like 48 hours. Anything to be here, though – I don’t mind it at all.”

Unfortunately, the goaltending depth situation looks to be more uncertain for the time being. With Mark Dekanich already out with an ankle injury, the Blue Jacket suffered another blow when Curtis Sanford injured a groin in practice yesterday. And, according to Arniel, it came at the worst possible time.

“Curtis Sanford was scheduled to play yesterday,” Arniel said. “A freak thing happened; he went through the full practice the other day and (Ian Clark) was working with Mase on some shootout things. Curtis wanted to jump in for a couple and popped his groin.

“It was unfortunate. We were going to make a switch there yesterday, but when you score two goals a game it doesn’t matter which goaltender is in there.”


The Blue Jackets’ goalie situation reminds me a lot of what the San Jose Sharks went through during the mid and late 90’s. They were swapping out goalies and having goalies get hurt faster than they could replace them.  And, as the Sharks found out, the faster you churn, the more you churn. You also end up the answer to too many trivia questions. The Blue Jackets need to solve what’s going on with Steve Mason, and then look around for a backup who can stay with the team for more than 24 hours. There’s still a couple of old vets waiting by the phone—maybe it’s time to make the call.

Because no matter how awful October has been for your goaltending, you don’t want it becoming November’s problem.

Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: blue+jackets, bryzgalov, canucks, flyers, goalies, luongo, mason, nhl, schneider


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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!