Hockey goaltenders must skate well, despite the myth that they don't need to do so.
Hockey is a sport that seems to be accompanied by a number of myths.
Some of them have to do with specific positions and the skills that a particular player needs to have. Others have to do with the way a player prepares for game action, or even home-ice advantage.
Most of these myths can be easily debunked.
You look at the goaltender and you see the pads, the mask, the catching glove and the blocker.
You think that goaltenders just have to keep the puck from going into a four-by-six-foot net and you think that being a great skater is not a requirement of the job.
While a goalie may not have to win a long race for the puck, he must be able to move forward, backward and side to side with speed and quickness. He must be confident on his feet.
If the goaltender is not a good skater, he will lose his edges at the worst possible moments.
Goalies must be great skaters.
Hockey players wear helmets to keep them from suffering concussions, right?
Hockey players wear helmets to keep them from suffering skull fractures and other more serious injuries (source: postbulletin.com).
Helmets are hard shells made out of plastic. The idea is to protect the skull from absorbing a blow, which might prevent a very serious injury.
If helmets were supposed to prevent concussions, they would be made out of a softer material.
You have heard the expression dozens of times: "Kick save and a beauty."
Longtime sports announcer Marv Albert is best-known for his work in basketball and football, but he was the longtime play-by-play radio voice of the New York Rangers. When Eddie Giacomin was in the net for the Rangers, he was known for making the "kick save and a beauty" call.
However, what Giacomin and all goalies make are skate saves or pad saves, not kick saves (source: hockeyplayer.com).
Most NHL teams take to the ice with one player wearing a "C" on the left shoulder and two other players wearing the letter "A" in the same position.
Hockey fans know that the "C" stands for captain.
Most believe that the "A" stands for assistant.
It does not. It stands for "alternate" captain.
The alternate captain can talk to the referee when the captain is not on the ice. He cannot "assist" the captain in making a case to the officials.
Prior to the start of the 2012 NHL playoffs, ESPN hockey columnist Pierre LeBrun did a column on the best home-ice advantage in the NHL.
He concluded that the Chicago Blackhawks had the best home advantage.
The Blackhawks were 27-8-6 during the regular season at home, meaning they won 27 times and lost 14 times, with six of those losses in overtime or shootout.
That was a very respectable showing, although three other teams performed better at home.
However, in the playoffs, the Blackhawks were 0-3 at home in their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Hawks lost their first two home games in overtime, where one would think that a home-ice advantage might wilt the visitors.
In the final game of the series, the Hawks were blanked 4-0 by Phoenix.
The fans may roar their approval during the national anthem, but that doesn't help the team perform well at home in important games.