Archives for posts with tag: NHL

To be a goaltender in the National Hockey League is tough.

One must have not only the physical abilities, quickness, lateral movement, reflexes, conditioning to withstand playing upwards of 70-games a season, but also the mental capacity to withstand playing the only position in hockey that is individual. When a team wins it’s a team win, most of the time, but when a team loses it’s the goaltenders fault.

The worst part of a goaltenders job is the traffic he has to battle through to make saves. How would you like it if you had someone like Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom parking his backend in your face, and you had to fight through that to make a save? How about Dustin Byfuglien?

There is no doubt that goaltenders have the toughest job in hockey. However, I have a problem with them.

Goaltenders expect to be protected to the max, they’re like quarterbacks in football, lay of finger on them and expect to get a penalty. Yet, goaltenders stand in their crease and hack at the players standing in front of the net.

Steve Downie was hacked in the back of the legs by Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury in a game earlier this month. Downie responded by turning around and giving Fleury a cross-check. Downie was then given a shot by a Penguins defenceman for touching the goalie. If that had been a defencman who had originally slashed Downie there wouldn’t have been a problem, the two might have dropped the gloves and settled their differences, but since a goalie slashed him, Downie is seen as a bad guy for retaliating. Why though? Fleury should be seen like every other player on the ice is. If he doesn’t want to be touched then don’t slash the player, who wasn’t in the crease, in the back of the legs. Downie had every right to turn around and give Fleury a little shot back.

Another example of this is from last seasons Stanley Cup Final, when Tim Thomas body checked Daniel Sedin. Thomas was credited with making a smart play, but if Sedin can’t hit him, why should Thomas be allowed to contact and hit Sedin.

Another problem I have with goaltenders is how much they complain about getting bumped when they come outside their crease.

Now, I’m not talking about what Milan Lucic did to Ryan Miller, that play should’ve resulted in a suspension for Lucic. What I’m talking about is when a goalie comes out to challenge a shot, but comes a foot-and-a-half outside his crease to do it. A player has every right to screen the goalie, as long as he isn’t in the crease, and has just as much right to that ice as a goalie does. Why does the goaltender automatically get the right to that ice if he comes out to challenge the shot. If the player is already standing there screening, why should he be given a penalty for goalie interference, if the goaltender makes contact with him.

Finally, the last, and biggest problem I have with goaltenders is how much they flop, and how they are credited for being crafty and smart for drawing penalties when they flop.

A prime example of this happened this past weekend in the Penguins Senators game. Senators goalie Ben Bishop maybe had his skate brushed be Matt Cooke’s skate, and I mean the steel might have just barely brushed, but Cooke received a penalty.

Now, on that play, Cooke probably got a penalty for being Matt Cooke, even though he’s cleaned up his act considerably this season, only 34 PIMS this season, but he received a penalty for the most part because of the acting job Bishop did.

Bishop went down like he had just be shot, arms flying, head snapping back, and when a goaltender who is 6′ 7″ falls down like he’s been shot, a referee is going to notice that.

That is the part that bothers me the most, Bishop was applauded by the CBC’s Greg Millen as being clever for drawing the penalty on the play. Millen is a former NHL goalie, by the way.

Why should Bishop be applauded though. If he had been someone like Max Lapierre, or Alex Burrows, of the Vancouver Canucks, who flopped they would’ve been roasted by all forms of media, but because a goalie did it to draw a penalty, it’s a smart play. I just don’t understand.

In my opinion, the worst offender in the goalie profession is Tampa’s Dwayne Roloson. He complains the most and flops the most, yet is rarely called out on it, but rather applauded for being a crafty veteran for his ability to draw a penalty.

The NHL needs to start giving these goalies diving penalties for flopping all over the ice, and the referees need to talk with the goalies and tell them to lay off the hacking and stick work with guys standing in front of their net, and if they don’t, then maybe the goalies can come to expect a few more hacks and slashes on their gloves after the whistle go uncalled.

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Image courtesy of The Province

The Vancouver Canucks made the biggest splash on trade deadline day this year, trading Cody Hodgson and Alex Sulzer for Marc-Andre Gragnani and Zack Kassian.

It was a move that shocked many Canuck fans, and sent fans into a frenzy. This trade was probably the most unpopular trade in Canucks history since Trevor Linden was sent packing by the Canucks in the late 90’s, an era of hockey that most Canuck fans would like to forget.

It’s easy to understand why Canuck fans disliked this trade so much. Cody Hodgson was the Canucks first round draft pick the year after the team drafted Patrick White in the first round, he was a stand out on Team Canada at the World Junior tournament, scoring 16 points in six games, and nearly made the team as an 18-year-old. He also 16 goals and and 33 points this season, giving the Canucks production from the third line.

The Canucks gave up a good, young player in this trade, but I still think they made a good trade.

In Zack Kassian, the Canucks are getting a big, powerful winger, a former first-round draft pick, 13th overall, who can skate and throw his body around, and contrary to many peoples thoughts, he actually has some touch in the offensive zone. The Canucks haven’t traded for some meat head enforcer like some fans believe, although Kassian can drop the gloves if he has to. According to hockeyfights.com, Kassian, has three fights this season, one in the AHL and one in the NHL.

Kassian, who is a year younger than Cody Hodgson, is having a better season than Hodgson did at the same time in his young career. The stats don’t lie.

As a 20/21-year-old this season, Kassian, has played 30 games in the American Hockey League, and at the time of the trade 27 games in the NHL. Cody Hodgson played 52 games in the AHL and eight in the NHL when he was a 20/21-year-old. For the sake of fair comparison, let’s compare their AHL stats.

Both Hodgson and Kassian were top prospects in their organizations, so it would be safe to assume both got their fair share of ice time in the minors.

Kassian’s stat line in the AHL this season read like this:

30GP 15G 11A 26Pts 31PIMS +4

Hodgson’s stat line in the AHL at the same age read like this:

52GP 17G 13A 30Pts 14PIMS -12

Kassian has played in 22 less games, in the AHL, but he has scored only two less goals, scored four less points and has a better plus/minus and more penalty minutes. Kassian has also played in 27 games in the NHL at the time of the trade, compared to eight for Hodgson at the same age.

All I’m saying is give this trade time, Hodgson may have been having a breakout season this year, but he wasn’t exactly playing against the cream of the crop defencemen, not while on the same team that has the Sedin twins on one line and Ryan Kesler on the other.

This trade could end up being the Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov, where the Canucks give up the skilled forward, for the power forward, or it could end up being the Cam Neely trade, where the Sabres give up on a young, power forward too early.

There is risk in this trade, but there is risk in every trade, and only time will tell how this trade works out for both teams. In the end the Canucks gave up a good, young player, for another. They gave up a piece player in a run to the Stanley Cup for another player that will be a piece in a run to the Stanley Cup.