NHL news these days are relatively hard to come by. Personally, I do not care for the “29 trade possibilities for John Tavares” or the Twitter Wars of Julius Honka. Grading teams’ off-season moves is also a tough ask at this point, teams are not done, and pre-maturely judging a team would be like Steve Simmons declaring the Maple Leafs were great in 2014-2015 after 13 games (9-4-0 record), only to see them fall to one of the worst in league that year (all though I would be foolish to assume the Habs can get good enough to contend next season).
I was reading an excellently done series of articles by TheScore’s soccer department about how to build the best player in each position using the best traits of the best players in those positions, and I thought it would be interesting to try for hockey as well.
In the first edition of a totally biased series of articles to debut the new site: Here is my ideal goalie.
PLAYING THE PUCK: BEN BISHOP
Playing the puck as a goalie is absolutely essential to a team’s ability to transition play. Having someone who can make that play that is rare, I can name only a few. Such an easy skill to appreciate, one must look no further than soccer to understand its value. Manuel Neuer (German National Team and Bayern Munich) is accepted by most as one of the top 5 keepers in the world, based mostly on his ability to play the ball. Hockey has the same need for a puck moving, puck stopper. Look at what happens when your goalie is noticeably bad at this skill. On the contrary having a guy who can sauce from the goal line opens up your team to be able to attack all the time. Like this beauty. Look at how quickly Tampa is able to switch to offence because Bishop can make that first pass.
Honorary Category: Size
Tough to say anything other than the guy is 6 foot 7. On his knees his shoulders hit the crossbar. What more can you ask for? Naturally, bigger size means more injuries but I’m not counting that here in this fantasy land where I build hockey players as though I am a god.
ATHLETICISM: JONATHAN QUICK
Let me start with this: a goalie usually does not have to make an acrobatic save if his team has played correctly and if the goalie has kept his position. That being said, Dominic Hasek built an entire Hall of Fame career on flopping around. If i were to pick one man to make a save doing the splits while reaching beyond the norms of the human range of motion, Quick would be the guy. Who else could do THIS? For all the things he is overrated for I do like his ability to make those flashy saves here and there. Only problem is his aggressiveness leads to being out of position, but we’re not concerned for that right now.
Speaking of positioning….
POSITIONING: HENRIK “THE KING” LUNDQVIST
One of the weirdest things about Henrik Lundqvist’s style is his unwillingness to leave the crease. Most goalies these days like to venture forward (like an explorer crossing the sea) to challenge the shooter. This process causes the shooter to make his move quicker while also limiting the amount of net the snipers in the NHL have to set their sights on. The King doesn’t care for what the shooter can see, rather relying on his reflexes and the extra fraction of distance and time to snatch any puck shot towards his net. It is especially bizarre given he is not the tallest of goalies, but it is of no matter to the King. Lundqvist has been one of the best for the past decade, and although he may be slowing down, he is continuously square to pucks.
Honorary Category: Sexiness
I mean is there really a more attractive guy? Who even cares about George Clooney, Ryan Gossling or Ryan Reynolds when you can see this smile instead…
Seriously… The guy is the dream.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS: KARI LEHTONEN
Lets get two things straight right away here. 1) Yes I intentionally chose a picture of him getting scored on. 2) Kari Lehtonen is not a good goalie. Though his numbers last season (notably even strength save percentage) were respectable especially given the D corps in front of him, Kari is not a good goalie. He is an ideal backup to a team that has a clear number 1. Unfortunately he is making 6 million dollars against the cap. That is not backup money (well actually if you’re the Stars, it is, hello Ben Bishop). My point here is this: He is bad, has been for a while, but still wants to play hockey. The whole world has been telling him he’s garbage since his first days in Dallas. I’ll give him some credit here, just for continuing to put on the pads. I’d have quit in his shoes a while ago (which is what I would still recommend he does coincidentally).
Honorary Category: Coolest Resting Position since Ken Dryden
Great stuff right there. Goalies are weird.
STAMINA: CAM TALBOT
In this day and age number 1 goalies play around 60 games. Teams with over-reliance on goalies (Montreal) or teams with bad backups (LA Kings) push that number higher if they can. Jonathan Quick averages almost 65 games a season (without injury of course) and it shows that he gets tired. Argue the merits to Quick being named world class all you’d like (that .915ish save percentage career average doesn’t scream anything special to me) but he plays more than most. Keep that in mind when I remind you that Cam Talbot, a late bloomer who played as a backup for most of his career, played 73 GAMES(!!!!!) in the regular season and 86 GAMES TOTAL in the 2016-2017 season. Best of all, he was not the reason the Oilers were eliminated. He played well, as consistently as anyone and far more often than anyone last season.
COMPOSURE: CAREY PRICE
Is there a man less likely to freak out in the entire world? Carey Price is amazing at a lot of things but he is absolutely most famous for his ice cold veins. The man is in a constant state of calm. It’s like he’s at the beach in Spain drinking sangria while everyone around him is acting as though they’re on the front line of a war. It is fascinating to see how he controls lose pucks and scrums in his crease as though they are as remedial as picking which flavor of ice cream you’d want on a hot summer day.
Honorary Category: Back Strength
With all that team carrying he does, his back strength must be superb. Seriously the Habs are so garbage these days.
GLOVE HAND: PEKKA RINNE
Pekka Rinne has the most active glove hand in hockey. The picture above demonstrates just how often he uses it. Not only to freeze a loose puck or catch one out the air on the glove side, but also to catch puck headed to where his blocker is located. Goalies are repetitive. Shot to the blocker side above the bad either give a rebound or hit the twine. Pekka Rinne attempts to catch those ones too, something we do not see in any other goalie. He scoops pucks up that most goalies would keep in play due simply to the fact that it is rolling to their stick. Shea Weber once said that there’s about 6 times per game that Pekka uses his glove where no other goalie would even bother. It looks real strange, but hey it works.
Honorary Mention: Steve Mason (not because his glove is that good, but being a right catcher is so strange to shooters that it throws them off often)
Some of you might ask me what this article has in terms of value. Absolutely nothing, but it was lots of fun think of. Try it out. Let me know what yours would be.
If I did not pick your favorite goalie, or I picked one you hate it is most definitely because I hate you, everything you love and especially your favorite goalie. Please feel free to send your complaints to Tyler O’Connor, he will love to hear every single one of them.
Stay tuned for my next post. The Ideal Defensive D-Man.