Posts Tagged ‘hockey’
I should preface this by saying that I like hockey when the Chicago Blackhawks are playing. When they’re not playing, there’s as much chance of me watching hockey as there is of me watching a game of competitive foosball. In other words, I’m using the word “beef” loosely. And by the way, I suck at foosball.
Anyways, I be beefin’ with the NHL because of what’s currently happening in the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s a “phenomenon” which seems to occur every year: an ordinarily average/above-average goalie suddenly gets hot in the playoffs and almost single-handedly carries his team much farther than it would ordinarily go. The LA Kings (really? The LA Kings, sans Wayne Gretzky?) are one win away from hoisting the Cup largely because their goalie, Jonathan Quick (who I always want to call Jonathan Swift), has morphed into a hybrid octopus-black hole. As alluded to in the first paragraph, I don’t follow hockey closely at all, so I won’t ply you with stats — but I think LA was the fifth or sixth-best team (record-wise) in its conference, and maybe the twelfth-best in the entire playoffs – and that Quick had a decent year, but not a dominant one. However, come playoff time there’s no other sport where one average/above-average player can get “hot” and have such a significant impact on his team’s chances.
This always happens in the NHL playoffs, and it’s a big reason why I’ve never been a hockey fan – because watching a goalie stop 59 shots a game and “will” his team to a 1-0 victories bores the crap out of me. I’m the opposite of a hockey maven, but I can still recall four goalies that have pulled the “I just channeled Ken Dryden for six weeks – now I’ll go back to being Jocelyn Thibault for the rest of my career” routine: Jonathan Quick, Antii Niemi (2010 Blackhawks), Jean-something Giguere (Anaheim Ducks from several years back), Olaf “Olie the Goalie” Kolzig from the Capitals (in the late 90’s), and Curtis Joseph for the St. Louis Blues (mid-90’s?). My sense is that aside from Joseph, none of these guys is a Hall of Fame-caliber goalie. I don’t think Kolzig lasted for more than a few years in Washington; who knows what Giguere is doing these days; the jury is still out on Niemi, who seems about average in San Jose; and I think Swift is well-regarded, but still too early to tell if he’ll keep it up. And though not all of these guys went on to win the Stanley Cup (namely, Kolzig and Joseph), my point is that NHL goalies can go from ordinary to superhuman with the flick of a switch, carry their team to ridiculous heights in the playoffs, and then revert back to utter normalness. This bugs me because it turns the game from a “team” game into a game of “whose goalie is playing absolutely out of his mind right now”. I like the fact that most goalies are considered “oddballs” who have weird rituals and like to paint cool stuff on their helmets, but I dislike the fact that they can have so much control over the outcome of a playoff campaign.
On another note, I’m not sure these guys can wear any more padding. I realize the puck comes at them at 100 miles per hour on occasion, but they look like miniature versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and it seems a bit excessive. I get the fact that dekes are in integral part of scoring in hockey, and getting the goalie out of position to open up the net is an art form, but seriously – when the goalie is standing straight up and in “ready” position, I don’t think more than eight percent of the net is visible. Every time I watch a hockey game, I’m amazed by how hard it is to score when everything is status quo, meaning that the goalie isn’t stuck behind the net or lying flat on his back.
IOH: -0.7. I like hockey players – they’re by far the most grounded of any professional athlete. But I don’t like how boring the playoffs get when one team’s goalie catches fire and turns into a human Venus flytrap.