Last night I had a dream. It was a dream that most hockey fans wish would come true for them. Last night, I hit the ice as a Toronto Maple Leaf. Unfortunately, every dream has a downside, and for this one, I was the goalie.
So after a nice warm-up, the game started. I couldn't tell which team we were facing, but I think they were the Red Wings...or the Senators...they were red, let's leave it at that. So I was looking around, of course, not realizing this was a dream, until the opposing team got a breakaway, thanks to a give-away by one of our forwards (probably Hollweg).
So then the puck gets passed up and a breakaway is made. I got in position and waited for the red skater to come closer. Before I even got to take a good look at the skater and if there were any other teammates nearby, I saw a bullet go over my top right shoulder. I later found out who that player was, but I won't say...yet, or my whole article will get off topic.
After waking up, I thought about the dream. But I was just thinking about how I let the first shot in. I took a moment to think about the following, "If a goalie lets the first shot of the game in, is he necessarily a bad goaltender?"
Fellow hockey fans, haven't we all seen those games where right off the face-off, an opportunity comes up and a goal merges off the first shot? I have seen many of these, mostly on highlight reels and YouTube.
I've seen comments that say things like "put him in the minors," "why do we still have guys like this in the NHL" or my favourite, "to goalie: when the puck comes to your top right, don't use your left pad!" I'm sure that some of you guys have also said things like this. (You know who are.)
First off, what makes the first shot any different than any other shot in the game? (Other than being the FIRST shot in the game.) Just because it's the first shot doesn't mean it's going to be a slow or fast shot. It doesn't mean it's going to go top shelf or miss the net by a mile. I'll give three examples and let you be the judge.
- Jerome Iginla's coming in on a one-on-two, he sees he can't get through both defensemen, so he just takes a shot from where he is on that slight chance of a goal...and he does score!
- Sidney Crosby is coming in on a one-on-two, he sees he can't get through both defensemen, so he just takes a shot from where he is on that slight chance of a goal...too easy for the goalie!
- Dominic Moore is coming in on a one-on-two against Sergei Gonchar and Nicklas Lidstrom. He dekes both defensemen, goes one on one with the goalie and scores!
Take a moment to think about those three examples. (I just plugged those names in there for fun, they have no affect on the goal or save.) I think Example 2, and Example 3 can be seen as ok, but No. 1 is probably the one that would have you saying all those nasty things about the goalie.
You have to realize that every goal happens for a reason. Yes, EVERY goal. (Well, except empty nets, they're a whole different story.) Example 1 might've gone in because the goalie got too confident with his defensemen and wasn't expecting a shot, or maybe because he thought it would go high but it went low.
Everyone makes mistakes, even NHL goaltenders. But what I'm trying to say is what makes Example 1 so different if it was the first shot or if it was the last shot in the third period?
A goalie must be respected for everything he does. Forwards and defensemen mess up many more times than goalies (that's how all the shots from the opposing teams are made) and we don't criticize them about it (unless it results in a goal).
So then why do we criticize a goalie when he messes up. He's covered for lots of mess-ups by fellow defensemen and forwards, shouldn't it be their turn to take responsibility for a goal?
The team isn't built around the goalie, but around the team. If the goalie's having a bad day, it's up to the team to help him out, just like he does when the team's having a bad day.
Is every single goal the goalie's fault? Is a first shot goal the goalie's fault? Is Dominic Moore deking Gonchar and Lidstrom the goalie's fault? That's for you to decide.
PS. I might've been shifting subjects too fast, but you guys get the point of the article.
PSS. As for the story, the guy who scored on me was Mats Sundin! Maybe it was a sign...