As the NHL season begins to hit “the back nine”, as it were, the amount of focus put on standings, points, statistics and prognostications of playoff match-ups also increase accordingly. Inversely, it seems another pattern is taking shape, my personal tolerance for certain types of mentalities is decreasing. As was indicated in my last post, I know we fans of hockey are diverse. I know you have as much right to self express as I do. I have chosen today as the day I foritfy my view of how net minders are portrayed in the public media.
The thoughts, views and understanding of goalies in the NHL have come a very long way, but I feel there is still much work to be done on that front. In today’s NHL, there are former professional goaltender’s who are getting audiences and being heard more and more in a public setting. Of note to me is former NHLer Kevin Weekes. I’ve made it known through Twitter to @KevinWeekes that his furtherment of fan awareness of “NHL goalie world” gets the utmost of appreciation from me for sure. Darren Pang (a “Fun Size” former NHLer no less) and a few others have also been an open source of the actuallity facing NHL net minders. There are blue paint defender who are still participating actively in their NHL careers who do their best to inform the media and fans as to the reality of the position. All of this effort is noticed by me, at least, and I give a virtual wooden-stick tap to those former and current NHL goalies who have sent their perspectives out into the public.
Three specific things related to Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey have now worked themselves to the forefront of my brain. One is the overwhelmingly common notion that an NHL statistics are the measure of the individual goalie himself. To that notion, I give a heavy, loud guffaw every single time I see it or hear it. Here’s a post from my personal blog from 2010 looking at retired NHL goaltender Olie Kolzig and still active NHL Martin Brodeur. If you read it carefully, I believe you may start to see a certain perspective you may not have seen previously. Of course, don’t think I am not aware that we of “Clan Goalie” make mistakes, have bad games or must share in the responsibility when things happen in games on a team level. Second on my mind is net minders are one part of a team. They can’t be completely without fault, nor can they be completely to blame. This post on The Rat Trick, A Florida Panthers blog, from fellow @fansided blogger, Scott Mullin, appears to me to be putting the entire load on only the goalies and makes no mention of a single skater in the picture. In my mind, it would be fun to see just Dwayne Roloson and Martin Brodeur go out on ice in full net-defending gear and play a game against each other some day. If only one player from each team, however, were playing hockey each game though, the Tampa Bay Lightning wouldn’t even exist would it?
Lightning coach Guy Boucher and many others in the NHL are very much against shoot outs. Here’s what Coach Boucher had to say about shoot outs following Tuesday’s Bolts vs. Canucks game. I agree with him and his point very much synchs with mine today; hockey is a team sport. Individual efforts should not decide the outcome of a team sport. To me, in shoot outs, the goalie does have a small advanatage as opposed to game play. There are no passes to read. The shooter must continue to move, so as much as the goalie must be wise in reaction and commitment, the shooter must as well. From either the shooter perspective or the net minder perspective, the idea of “team” tends to get lost in a shoot out. Personally, I’d be far more accepting of a five or ten minute 4-on-4 sudden death OT and tie games over shoot outs. Clearly, just as a shoot out points more to individuals, so does placing all focus on Roli and Matty G (as we of the Bolts Nation have affectionately nicknamed Garon).
The most pressing, last thought I’ll include is The Goalie Guild. I have a great respect for Justin and do my best to retweet his thoughts as often as I can. I praise his efforts and give him all credit for doing what he does. His presence in social media has also been great for spreading awareness of the position of net minder. Typically, I do not question his real-time, public thoughts (as seen on Twitter @TheGoalieGuild), but in the case of Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, I did and do now provide my disappointment in how The Goalie Guild has “enlightened” the public regarding Roli. Justin is a goalie himself. I feel he should have been one of the very first parties to shed light on the fact that no matter how much practice time a net minder gets, the game is the only place a goalie can truly shake off the rust and put his mind on the game. For a goalie, there is no substitute for actual game play and preparedness. In practice, defenders of the net see only their own team. The mental pressure is nowhere near the same. In practice, a biscuit goes in the basket, the red light does not go off and thousands of fans are not yelling “It’s all your fault,” are they? A goalie who has a few bad practices is not going to be feeling the stress to the extent and levels that goalie will feel after a few have a few bad games right?
There’s nothing anyone can do about goalies that were former Lightning players is there? There’s nothing anyone can do about anything that has already happened. Do the Tampa Bay Lightning have “goalie” woes? I would guess both goalies have had their own individual “woes” considering a distinct lack of scoring by the skaters in front of them on power plays, mostly on the road, a particularly high number of turnovers that have changed the in-game momentum toward the favor of those shooting on Roli and Matty G, and a constant reminder that for every skater who gets injured and every play that did not get made or should have been executed a little more smartly, it must be the goalies’ fault.
I still very much appreciate The Goalie Guild. I know Justin has to track a ton of goalies and keeps the fantasy hockey world abreast. I’m not pointing my finger of blame and dislike at The Goalie Guild in this post, I’m simply adding perspective that I feel may have been lost momentarily. I respect Justin and the entire “Guild” immensely. If Roloson has played enough games to be physically unable to get to a certain level, I do believe he will be the first to admit it. I get the sense he’s that sort of net minder. Did anyone ever think that he might just be taking one for the team, because Yzerman cannot make a deal for a franchise goalie right now and the AHL netminders need to grow and evolve a bit more before facing NHL action to the correct standard? This may not be the case, I’m simply illustrating the importance of perspectives.
In a team sport, the net minder should have just as much confidence in the team as the team has in the netminder. Go Bolts!
Follow and contact me on Twitter @creasesinger and be sure to follow @BoltsByTheBay to keep up with all the Tampa Bay Lightning fan thoughts. Visit my personal blog Singing From the Crease too!