Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holy Goalie!

                                 photo by Lisa Ovens (from Mesh Galleria)

by Jan Snyder

This NHL season there are plenty of goalie stories out there, both good and bad.

After watching the Pens again get shellacked by Halak this season, I’m more than willing to believe he is the real deal. The opposite of Halak is Marty Brodeur, who hasn’t looked anything like the Hall of Fame goalie we know he is so far this year.

Pens’ goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, has gotten off to a slow start to say the least, while Sergie Bobrovsky of the Flyers is one of four goalies in the league with eight wins already.

No doubt, goalies are the divas of the teams, just like starting pitchers in baseball and quarterbacks in football. As they go, their teams go. Goalies have been known to act a little crazy with rituals and superstitions. Fleury himself runs onto the ice and that proved to be embarrassing during a playoff game when he fell flat on his face as he entered the arena!

Marty Biron, back up to King Henrik Lundqvist in New York, has worn the same skates for 12 years!

Jocelyn Thibault, now retired, had a habit of pouring water over his head exactly six and a half minutes before the game started.

My personal favorite goalie, Patrick Roy, talked to his goalposts every game. When asked why he did that, he replied, “Because they are my friends.” Roy also made it a point to never step on the red or blue lines.

                                 net photo by Andrew Lavigne

Okay, they are a little quirky, these goalies, but we have to love that about them, don’t we? Whatever works for them. So maybe Fleury’s teammates need to come up with some new superstition for him. Maybe he should kiss the first puck before they drop it. How about if he tiptoes out to his goal? Could he meditate for ten minutes before the game begins? We’ve got to think of something to get him out of his funk.

In the meantime, it’s no fluke that the goalies whose teams are in first place in the divisions are the ones who are producing. In the East, Montreal leads the Northeast Division with Carey Price in goal. They don’t seem to miss Halak much, do they?

The Atlantic Division leader, much to my chagrin, is the Philadephia Flyers with our old buddy, Bob (Sergei Bobrovsky) in goal. He is personally responsible for ruining the Pens first game at the Consol.

The Southeast Division leader is the Caps with Michal Neuvirth in goal. He’s already amassed eight wins this season – but he has quite the fire power in front of him with the Great 8, Semin, etc. to score plenty of goals for him. Last year’s hot goalie, Semyon Varlamov, has won only two games for Washington so far.

Out west, in the Central Division, Halak is in control for the Blues stopping just about every puck that comes his way, while in the Pacific Division the quick Jonathon Quick has totaled up eight wins on a team that is thriving – and looks good with mullets! In case you didn’t see it, the whole team wore mullet wigs in practice the other day in honor of Ryan Smyth’s 1,000 game.

In the Northwest, Roberto Luongo is producing admirably for Vancouver with assists from the Sedins and Ryan Kesler helping him out.

Another goalie of note is the steady Tim Thomas in Boston. He’s led his team to seven victories and sits in first place in goals against. He and Halak lead the NHL in shutouts with three in this young season.

I can’t leave out Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh and the way he has stepped in and stepped up while Fleury finds his way. He’s made some amazing saves and kept the Pens in a few games. Can Johnson keep winning for the Pens? Can Fleury find the quirk, superstition, sports psychologist, whatever, to get him back to the Fleury we know and love? Only time and more games on the schedule will tell.

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