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InGoal Update: Hasek’s legacy lives on in NHL playoffs

InGoal Update: Hasek’s legacy lives on in NHL playoffs

Jimmy Howard proves snow angels, if not snow showers, can be useful; Tim Thomas serves up a 52-save OT highlight reel, Boucher finds new way to add to Flyers goalie swapping; this and more in the May 3rd update

Boston Bruins Goalie Tim Thomas

Boston Bruins Goalie Tim Thomas goes all out to stop pucks. (Scott Slingsby photo)

Most goalies can appreciate the esthetic beauty of a perfectly executed butterfly push, backside recovery or classic arching glove save. However, when push comes to shove the bottom line is that if the puck stays out, no matter what the goalie looks like, then he is doing his job.

The last InGoal update featured a save made by Pekka Rinne falling on his back to follow a lateral play, then kicking a leg up in tribute to Dominik Hasek’s best moments, and the latest NHL Saves of the Week package sometimes looks like a crease clinic on scrambling saves.

Apparently Jimmy Howard must have watched the same Hasek highlight reel, because in Game 2 of the Red Wings series against San Jose, he made a save on his back, flailing his arms a la snow angel to stop Patrick Marleau from stuffing the puck in the short side. The save was a throwback to Hasek not only for the finish, but also for the start, because contrary to what many people presumed, Hasek’s first save was more conventional than people think.

Here’s what Goalies World said about the Dominator in a 2005 analysis of his style:

As far as the long and reacting game (first shot) is concerned, Hasek is pretty much standard… While he often uses the butterfly to make the first save, it’s afterwards that his uniqueness stands out. On goalmouth scrambles, rebounds and lateral plays, instead of pushing from a butterfly position he often falls to his side to make that second save.

In the contemporary context of butterfly-block-push-reposition, falling on one’s side or reaching behind might be considered a desperation measure rather than a planned move. But as Hasek once explained to InGoal Magazine, there was more method to the madness than most realized.

Check out this highlight as Howard similarly makes a first save with a butterfly drop, followed by falling backwards with his arms extended to close the gap with the post. Hasek would have been proud of this one:

From snow angels to snow showers

Snow angels were just one the snow-related themes in the Detroit series.

The other was the Sharks repeated tactic of spraying snow into the goalie’s face at or after the whistle. Jimmy Howard and Joe Pavelski got offsetting minors for an altercation that was an outcome of this, and in Game 2 the scene repeated itself four more times. In contrast to the game referees that night, who let these intimidation attempts go unpunished, retired official Kerry Fraser, now working as a studio analyst for the TSN network in Canada, said he would have put a stop to the practice:

As a referee, I wanted players to STOP before running into the goalie. The method and purpose here, however, is blatantly obvious. Action must be taken by the referees. Here’s how I would have handled the situation.

The second time it happened I would have approached the San Jose bench and … said, “Todd (McLellan), we have a pattern here that you and I need to address. The next Shark player that stops hard for the purpose of deliberately throwing snow in Jimmy Howard’s face will receive an unsportsmanlike minor penalty! Can I count on you to take care of this please before I have to?”

If, however it did happen again my greatest hope is that the act would be committed by the worst offender – Joe Pavelski! One call would take the snow plow off the road until next winter and justice would be served.

It’s not the first time these two teams have engaged in a round of in-game showers. It was a hot topic after Joe Thornton sprayed Howard in Game 1 of San Jose’s playoff victory last season, and as he did then, Sharks coach Todd McLellan says now the only thing he won’t tolerate more than silly antics is forwards doing a fly-by of the net:

“I have no time for gimmicks and that type of crap. If our players are doing that, they’re going to hear from me first,” McLellan said. “But they’re going to hear from me even more when they don’t go to the net and stop on a loose puck. If you go back and look at them the pucks are bobbling around. They know it’s not a circus and it’s not about a clown show. We want them going to the blue paint just like the other team is.”

Snow or no, Howard may have to pull off a small miracle to get this team back on track. Even with a .952 save percentage and only four goals on 83 shots, his team finds itself in a hole.

Worse, in the last seven playoff games against the Sharks, the Wings have lost all but one.

Bad news arrives late in Flyers’ loss

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher

Flyers goalie Brian Boucher came off the bench to win Game 6 Sunday. (Photo by Ken DeNardo)

It’s bad enough when you go up 2-0 in the first ten minutes of a game, only to see it wither into a overtime loss.

 

Worse is the feeling when the winning goal is obvious to everyone but the referee, who needs to consult the video replay and drag on the agony by making the losing team hang around on the ice. This scene was played out Monday in Philadelphia, where the game was decided late in the first OT period on a shot that hit the inner cross bar and bounced out, creating some doubt as to whether it in fact was a goal.

Worth noting is Brian Boucher’s save selection on the shot: he gets square to the one timer that follows a cross ice pass, but elects to go with a butterfly block and stay almost on the goal line. As we have seen in other instances in these playoffs, failing to challenge, even for today’s bigger goalies, can have immediate and costly consequences.

Perhaps more egregious was the tying goal on Boucher with five minutes in the first period, a top-of-the-circles wrist shot that could only be explained away by his own teammates taking away a view of the release:

At the other end of the ice, Tim Thomas made 52 save on 54 shots, 32 in the third period and overtime alone, and 13 more than his two counterparts (yes, plural as Boucher left the game with a hand injury in the second period but returned to take his place back from Sergei Bobrovsky to start the third, the fifth Flyers swap in nine games).

Since we’ve already paid tribute to Hasek’s style, here are some highlights of Thomas’ performance. Of particular note are his technique (is that a technique?) of sweeping his pushing leg back behind his leading leg when doing his version of a sliding butterfly save (to block the 5-hole it would seem) and also his tendancy to use a paddle down, all-fours type of block on players that try to cut from a sharp angle towards the net (as opposed to the much discussed VH position):

With the Flyers down 2-0 in the series and heading to Boston, there is bound to be a lot of talk about last year’s epic collapse from a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia. One important thing to remember, however: Thomas was never a part of that, having lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask because of a hip that required offseason surgery.

Healthy again, he was back in Vezina Trophy winning form during the regular season, and after a slow start to the playoffs, is again looking like goalie that will be tough to beat in four of five games, let alone four straight.

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3 Comments

  1. Nick H.

    Having not followed the NHL site at TSN for some time, I’ll have to get back to checking them out. What a neat feature and brilliant idea to have an experienced former NHL referee as a sounding board and column for a sport. The NFL and NBA should consider something like this if they haven’t already (I don’t really keep up with those leagues).

  2. paul szabo

    Hi Nick;
    It goes without saying that Fraser is still the object of scorn here in Quebec for the famous disallowed goal during the Nordiques-Habs heyday. However, I met him on a flight several years ago and talked to him at length for at least a couple of hours. He was candid, gererous with his time and had many intelligent things to say about salaries, respect for officials, the speed of the game, injuries etc.

    What stands out for me in his quote is how polite he was. Would he really have talked to Todd McLellan this way? Not easy considering how much referees get yelled and sworn at.

    Here in Quebec, former ref Ron Fournier has a hockey talk show and is an authority on almost everything because he calls it as he sees it and isn’t afraid to call the league or players out.

  3. Matt in Montreal

    FYI,

    some game-used Hasek sticks available on eBay if anyone’s interested.

    Also some new Hasek TPS patterns.