Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Looking at Stats: Goalie Career Wins for Franchise

Corey Crawford, Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist all rank in the top 6 for franchise wins. Corey Crawford made his NHL debut for the Blackhawks in the 2005-06 season (and has been full time in the NHL since 2010-11), he currently ranks 6th in Blackhawks wins with 115, behind Tony Esposito (418), Glenn Hall (275), Ed Belfour (201), Jocelyn Thibault (137) and Murray Bannerman (116). Carey Price (NHL debut 2007-08) ranks 5th in Canadiens wins with 179, behind Jacques Plante (314), Patrick Roy (289) (franchise wins, 1985-86 to 1995-96), Ken Dryden (258) and Bill Durnan (208). Henrik Lundqvist ranks first in Rangers wins with 309, ahead of Mike Richter (301).

Henrik Lundqvist is the oldest of the three goalies and secured first in franchise wins during the 2013-14 season, Additionally he has a Vézina (2012), an Olympic Gold (2006) and an Olympic Silver (2014). The farthest he has been in the NHL playoffs is the Stanley Cup Finals, the Rangers first trip to the Finals since the 1994 Stanley Cup.

Carey Price is just coming into his prime and is 5th in franchise wins, behind some of the greatest goalies ever to play the game. While he has yet to advance past the Eastern Conference Finals, Carey Price won gold in both World Juniors (2007) and the Olympics (2014).

Like Carey Price, Corey Crawford is a young goalie entering his prime. He won the Stanley Cup in his 3rd full season (2013) and currently ranks 6th in franchise wins, also like Price, he is behind some of the greatest goalies ever to play the game.

While I don't expect Corey Crawford and Carey Price to pass Tony Esposito and Jacques Plante in franchise wins, I wouldn't be surprised if 50 and 31 eventually hang in the rafters at the United Center and Bell Centre given the starts to their young careers. I hope that Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price will eventually win the Stanley Cup and that Corey Crawford will eventually play for Team Canada, however even if they don't, they have still had great careers to this point, and will continue to do so, barring injury.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't Blame the Goalie (a piece I wrote back in February but didn't have my blog yet)

I am going to start off by saying that I am an amature goalie and a huge hockey fan. Watching NHL and Olympics, or even AHL and NCAA you see some outstanding goaltending. My general opinion is not to blame the goalie for a loss.

Sometimes it seems as though, unless a goalie has the game of their career, such as Ben Scrivens’s 59 save shutout or Carey Price’s two consecutive shutouts en route to an Olympic Gold, the goalie gets all of the blame and none of the credit.

I really started noticing this during last season’s NHL playoffs, coming from all different sides. Montréal fans saying that Carey Price couldn’t perform under pressure and lost that series. Carey Price had many highlight roll saves in that series, about half of the Canadiens were injured in the series, including Carey Price in the third period of the decisive game 5, which Ottawa won in overtime. The very next season, when you put the solid lineup of Team Canada in front of him, Carey Price shuts out the United States in the semifinals and Sweden in the gold medal game to win an Olympic Gold and the Best Goaltender award.

Also in the 2013 playoffs, in the finals, there was a game where Corey Crawford allowed five goals, all glove side, and the talk everywhere I turned was that Corey Crawford’s glove was horrible. Tuukka Rask allowed six. Corey Crawford would go on to win the Jennings Trophy and the Stanley Cup and be invited to train with Team Canada. Tuukka Rask would go on to win a bronze medal with Finland, including shutting out Team USA in the bronze medal game. It is safe to say, neither goalie is at fault for that game where a total of 11 goals were scored.

Yes, there are times where goaltending can make or break a team, that is why things like Latvia advancing as far as they did (they had an AHL goaltender in net who performed beyond expectations, the day after the Olympics he was called up) and Ben Scrivens having a 59 save shutout are amazing. However, teams like the Blackhawks, the Canadiens, the Penguins and the Canucks, where I have seen goalies be blamed for losses, are not countries with one active NHL player on their roster or last place in their division. All four teams made the playoffs last year, three of them have finished at the top of their conference within the past two complete NHL seasons.

Being primarily a Blackhawks and Canadiens fan, I have seen many games where Corey Crawford or Carey Price has played his heart out and made many highlight reel saves. When those games are wins, they are celebrated, when they are losses, they are blamed. Corey Crawford spent years in Norfolk then Rockford proving himself. When he made it to the NHL he became a starter that season. He has won the Stanley Cup, won the Jennings Trophy and trained with Team Canada. It is clear the Montréal Canadiens are still rebuilding, so Carey Price has yet to find postseason success in the NHL. However, competing for Team Canada, where he has a solid team in front of him, he is 11-0-0 (combining 2007 World Juniors and 2014 Olympics). Both competitions, he helped Canada win Gold and Received the Best Goaltender award, in 2007 he was also MVP.

Before you blame the goalie, such as Corey Crawford, Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Marc-André Fleury or Tuukka Rask, look what they have. A President’s Trophy, a Stanley Cup and a Jennings Trophy. An Olympic Gold and Olympic Best Goaltender. Two Olympic Golds, a Western Conference Championship and a President’s Trophy. A Stanley Cup and an Olympic Gold. A Stanley Cup and an Olympic Bronze. Chances are, if a goalie is that decorated, and (as in all those cases) the decoration is recent (within the past 5 calendar years for them) they must be doing something right.

non-mainstream sports

I recently started to play quidditch, muggle quidditch that is. I'm a keeper, like in every other sport I play. When I talk about being a (not very good) soccer keeper or hockey goalie it's respected as a sport. When I mention quidditch, the reaction is a mix of people thinking it's really cool and people laughing it off as not a real sport. The positions are pretty much the same as any other sport, a chaser is a forward, a beater is a d-man, a seeker is a specialized forward and a keeper is a keeper/goalie. Even though I've only done a 2 on 1 scrimmage so far (a beater and I playing against a chaser), I know it's about as hard to keep a quaffle out of a hoop as it is to keep a soccer ball out of a net or a puck out of a net.

I understand that being a fairly new sport and one based on a fictional book, some people will laugh off quidditch, but it is a real sport. Hockey has the Stanley Cup and other competitions such as the Olympic and Worlds, soccer has the World Cup, the Olympics and numerous other competitions. Quidditch has the World Cup and is gaining in popularity.

When Isobel Stanley first put on a pair of skates and picked up a stick, hockey was a new sport. When the first group of school boys started kicking a ball around, soccer was a new sport. Now they are popular worldwide. Hopefully quidditch will get there. I know I'll get people laughing it off, but to me quidditch is a fun sport and isn't just the sport on broomsticks as written by JK Rowling.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Impossibility of Choosing a "Best Goalie Ever"

I've seen many threads online asking who the best NHL goalie is, either current or all time, and have come to the conclusion that it's impossible to answer that question. I am a goalie (not very good, but you have to start somewhere) and I have certain goalies I enjoy watching (either active goalies or highlight reels) but I can't say those are the best, only my favorites.

A goalie like Georges Vézina, Charlie Gardiner or Jacques Plante is an all time great, there's no denying that, but put him in a modern game (even in modern gear) and he gets destroyed by all the skaters used to butterfly goalies noticing he left the low corners completely open.

Conversely, if you put Glenn Hall, Tony Esposito, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek or any other goalie who tends to play a more butterfly style in the 1910s-50s people would look at him as if he were crazy. Martin Brodeur is probably the only current goalie who wouldn't be looked at like he had two heads in that era.

My personal favorites are Corey Crawford, Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Tony Esposito (all time favorite), Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy (in part because he's the first goalie I really heard about, living in CO in the 90s). I also like what I've seen of Antti Raanta and Dustin Tokarski. Yes, this list is biased, because I'm human. You may also notice the complete lack of goalies from eras where I cannot find footage of them playing. I know Georges Vézina and Charlie Gardiner brought my two favorite teams their first championships, I know they kept playing hockey until they were literally on their deathbeds, but I don't feel I can include them in my list of favorite goalies due to having only seen photos and articles, no actual footage of them playing.

Looking at the rafters in the United Center, you'd think that Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito are the two greatest Hawks goalies to play the game because their numbers are in the rafters. However, the 1934 Cup banner is also in the rafters, and you can't say the last goalie-captain to win a Cup, doing so while on his deathbed, wasn't great too. So, even for one team, I see three standouts for greatest ever, and that's not even accounting for the 90s, which saw both Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek in the Indian Head, or what Corey Crawford might do in a young career that already includes a Stanley Cup and a Jennings Trophy.