I've just finished watching the first period of the Habs and Bruins, do or die for Boston. This, however, has nothing to do with that game in particular.
In the last three minutes of the first period, the Canadiens were on the power play. Tim Thomas was on the puck and on his game, as was Carey Price at the other end.
As the period wound down, both goalies heard what I think, to a goaltender, must be the sweetest sound in the world. What would that be?
The ring of the puck off the goal post.
The other team members have a huge sheet of ice making up the field of battle. The goaltender lives and dies in the area of blue that he or she has been given to protect.
Those posts mark a boundary. On one side, a goalie is a hero. On the other side is the space where his/her dreams turn to ash.
Most people don't envy the goalie that enormous responsibility. They themselves have never stood between the pipes as the enemy snipers close in. There is admiration for the agility, the focus, but never envy of that weight the goalie carries.
To me, as a person who willingly chose to become a goaltender, the choice was easy.
A goaltender is the last person standing. The only one who truly walks that line between victory and defeat. Your entire world is focused on the defense of your crease, and nothing else. Nothing less than a zero on that scoreboard is acceptable. No other position provides that thrill of satisfaction, that ultimate challenge.
He or she is the member of the team who can shoulder that pressure, those hopes, as if they were weightless, and carry the team to victory. Mediocrity is not acceptable.
The goalie remains on the ice for the entire game; focus and attention must never waiver. Muscles tense, eyes stinging with sweat, the goalie crouches on the blue ice between those posts, waiting for the moment he or she will be called upon to save the day again.
Every goalie learns where those posts are at a very young age. They are a point of reference, a place from which to start. They are a fickle friend, the difference between victory and defeat.
When you've tried your hardest, and that puck somehow ends up behind you, there is no sweeter sound than that black rubber on metal "clink".
So the next time you watch a goaltender go through the pre-game warm up notice when he taps the pipes. Yes, he's orienting himself, but he's also saying thank you. For the moments ahead where the last line of defense might need a little help from the hockey gods.