Friday, May 10, 2013

Looking at the Rough First Round for Goalies

"I think I can use this gap to whistle at the Ice Girls."
The position of hockey goaltender is demanding, both physically and mentally.  This years playoffs have had a freakish number of injuries inflicted upon the masked men of the top 16 teams in the NHL (well, 15 of the 16, as someone had to come out of the Southeast this year).

Minnesota's playoff run started with Niklas Backstrom pulling his groin in warmups, which isn't something you want your goalie to do.  This injury requires surgery for a sports hernia according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

Their backup, Josh Harding, played out of his mind for three games until he injured his leg during game 4.  The gif on Sbnation makes it look like he might've dinged his dong against the goalpost, which technically, isn't great for your overall happiness and genetic prosperity.

Not to be outdone by Harding, Jonathan (or Mike to the LA media) Quick starts his cup defense with his cup on the defensive taking a warm up shot to the hairy hackeysack.  Now many people are thinking, "well that's why you wear a cup."  The best example I can make in response to that, is take a cooking pot, put it over your head and hit it with a hammer.  Yes, it protected you but your ears still ring.  Replace "ears" with "testicles" and any male not already curled up into a fetal position checking himself will get the point.  Oh, and they lost that game 2-1 and people questioning if his testicular fortitude.

In Ottawa and Montreal, this Northeastern rivals entered a battle of one-ups-man-ship that should keep dentists everywhere hoping its the next big internet meme.  Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson used his masked face to block a Rene Borque shot in Game 1 and Carey Price chipping two teeth after Jarred Tinordi's skates hit Price in the mask.  I'll give the edge to losing a whole tooth over two chipped teeth.

Then Carey Price, not satisfied with only appearing once on the goalies injured in the line of duty report, suffered a lower body injury making the final save of regulation in Game 4.  This left Peter Budaj to suffer mental injuries from both the overtime loss in game 4 and the curb-stomping elimination game in Thursday night's Game 5.

And none of this includes the normal bumps and bruises that come with the job or the mental anguish of being eliminated from the playoffs, which always comes down to goaltending.  Or pinching defensemen.  Or both.

So, what have we learned?  Two things, I hope: 
1) Tending net in the playoffs is a dangerous position, despite looking like plush snowmen.
2) Hug the next goalie you see (or buy them a beer), they deserve it. (And I'm not just saying that as an ex-beer league goalie but I do count as a huggable/thirsty goalie) 

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