Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Bryzgalov out, LaBarbera called up

Looks like the hit Bryzgalov took may be a bit more serious than the Oilers initially hoped:

From nhl.com :

The Edmonton Oilers recalled goalie Jason LaBarbera from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on Monday. To make room for LaBarbera, defenseman Corey Potter was assigned to the Oilers' farm club.

LaBarbera was summoned a day after goalie Ilya Bryzgalov left the game in Dallas with an upper-body injury caused by a collision with Dallas Stars center Ryan Garbutt.

Signed to a one-year contract by the Oilers Nov. 8 and called up Nov. 17 after a conditioning stint with Oklahoma City, Bryzgalov is 1-1-0 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in four games (three starts).

"Bryzgalov took a hard hit [Sunday]," coach Dallas Eakins told the Oilers website after practice Monday. "He's being assessed as we speak to see where he's at. We'll know later in the day."


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Panthers Goaltending Saga Continues—Markstrom sent down

This past Summer, I kept looking at the Panthers lineup and wondered what they were going to do with their goaltending. After they let Jose Theodore go, I expected something to happen, whether it was trading for a goaltender, or finding another goalie in Europe to add to the mix.

Even after Dale Tallon signed Tim Thomas, it still felt like the Panthers were looking for a more permanent solution.

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Tim Thomas Back on IR

"I'm feeling more comfortable there, feeling progressively better,"  A quote from Tim Thomas via the Miami Herald

Um, yeah, about that, Tim....

Tim Thomas is back on the IR, and will miss games on Friday and Sunday. This time it's the other side, so he can't even cheat on his good side when he tries to get back up from the ice. 

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RIP Daniel Garza

Dr Daniel Garza didn't play hockey, and he wasn't an NHL team physician.  But because of his work, a lot more NHL players and hockey players in general, won't be suffering from brain injuries. His work in the area of traumatic brain injuries and concussions contributed to the understanding of how head injuries happen in sports, and more importantly, how to prevent them.

Dr Garza died on October 15. He will be missed.

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Diamonds or Dross?

Let's say you're looking for some diamonds, and you're given a nice big, plug of rough. Your job--figuring out if there's a diamond in the rough that's going to be good enough for your trouble.

You examine the rough, wash it down, and hmmm. Okay, some demantoid garnets. Nice, but not what you're looking for. But you can sell them on another market, so they get put aside. There's some industrial grade crystals, and they go into another pile.

You find a couple of possibilities in the mix, so now it's time to get to work. You clean them up and inspect further. No visible flaws and no occlusions, so it's time to hand them over to the cutter to see what the final product is going to be.

Here's where it gets fun.  You're depending on the cutter knowing their stuff. A mediocre cutter may get lucky, but they'll likely create a mediocre diamond--too shallow, or the table isn't in proper proportion, or worse, the diamond shatters, leaving you with more to sadly put into the industrial pile.

If the cutter is excellent, you get a diamond that's large, brilliant, and just the right shade of blue-white.

If you're really lucky, you get a pink diamond, and then you open up the champagne, because life is about to become very, very, good.

Goalies, like diamonds, don't start cut and polished.

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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.


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.

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Does the Desert Hold Another Chance for Thomas Greiss?

I keep wanting Thomas Greiss to play better. 

I watched Greiss while he was the backup for the San Jose Sharks. That's a bit of a trick, since he played behind Nabokov and Niemi, both goalies known for wanting to play every game in the season. Greiss was usually found to be sitting on the bench and taking notes on the game, instead of in the crease and stopping pucks.

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Panthers Looking for Some Goaltending Insurance with Thomas

After the Florida Panthers let Theodore and Clemmensen go this past summer, I kept waiting for them to announce that they'd traded for someone, or picked up a European goaltender, or grabbed an undrafted NCAA player, or something. But all that came out of Dale Tallon's office was they would stay with Markstrom.

Okay, nice idea, but they needed someone as a backup, preferably someone who could come in for a string of 5-10 games if Markstrom was hurt, or at least handle the second game of back to back games.

Markstrom did well for as badly as the Panthers played, but you'd think Tallon would want to have some sort of insurance.

So, now they're looking at some insurance, by inviting Tim Thomas in for a professional tryout. The word on the street is that it's going to lead to a one-year contract, somewhere in the vicinity of $2 million.

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Bobrovsky wins the Vezina—and that’s okay!

The definition for the Vezina trophy according to the NHL website: "The Vezina Trophy is an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs."

The Vezina trophy changed from being a totally objective award to a more subjective one back in 1981, when the Jennings trophy was introduced to award the goaltender with the lowest goals against average. And if you're old enough to remember when the CBC only showed the second and third period for Hockey Night in Canada, you probably spent more than a few seasons being more than a bit miffed when you thought the best goaltender that year wasn't necessarily the one who had the lowest GAA.

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Corey Crawford not going into the Osgood File

Not a lot of teams have had their goaltender head off to another team immediately after the team wins and Stanley Cup, but that was the situation the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves after Antti Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks. There were a lot of fans (and writers!) who went into "What the heck are we going to do for a goalie?" mode. The goalie they had in the system, Corey Crawford, was too young (he was 26--not a baby by goalie standards), too inexperienced, to take over the lead role.

The Blackhawks signed Marty Turco.

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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!


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