Advice from Ozzy to Those Inspiring

April 29, 2008

I actually had the chance to meet and visit with Wings goalies Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, and Jamie Howard (3rd string on depth chart) yesterday while they were at Big Bear practicing (my real job’s office is in the rink) for tonight’s game against the Avalanche.

During my conversation with Osgood, one of the Thunderbird Midget AAA goalies asked Ozzy for advice in getting to the pros. After serious reflection, Ozzy said the best thing young goalies can do to improve and give themselves a shot in reaching high levels of hockey is to study other goalies and take little things from each to incorporate in their own game. I asked him if he still, as an NHL veteran, did and he replied “of course.”

When I asked him who he primarily watched, he said “several” but he mostly watches Hasek and Brodeur (“the two best” he claimed).

I must mention Osgood was a real humble and welcoming professional. Unlike the other two, he was very genuine and took a real interest in our questions. He appears to be what all professional athletes should be like.

NET LESSON

No matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn and work on. As a goalie, whenever you attend any game that is a higher level than you play, study the goalie. As soon as the puck is at the center line, start to watch their every move. From movement to body positioning and from save selection to recovery, study all goalies and then work to incorporate their tendencies into your game. Your game will improve and you may reach levels you never thought were possible.

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Pressure Hab Goalie Style

April 29, 2008

Yes, I am aware this is the third post mentioning Price from Montreal but below is a description of the pressure a goalie faces in Montreal aside from what happens on-ice.

From Jim Kelly, a respected hockey journalist, in an editorial today arguing for Halak to start in net for the Habs in Game Four-

“Normally this would be a simple call, but nothing is ever simple in Montreal. Price is being promoted as the second-coming of St. Patrick of Roy or Ken Dryden and it’s in no small part because he’s been pushed into the role of playoff starter so quickly. And while the Habs management did it solely for hockey reasons, it has become a political and marketing and television issue as well. Benching Canada’s son for a Euro-trained netminder (even one who cut his competitive teeth in the QMJHL) is no easy call. Why it might even cause fans to spill out into the streets and set police cars on fire even if the Habs win.”

It is easy to dismiss this as hyperbole (younger goalies, find a dictonary) but considering what happned after Game 7 (http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=9210faf4-5725-4724-9b9f-83b3dfcf4680&k=65295) who knows what the Goons of Montreal would do.

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2008/04/29/kelley_carbonneau/


What is Price Doing Wrong in This Picture?

April 29, 2008

When the opposing team scores, I have always held the belief the goalie should never help the referee/linesman get the puck out of their net. Please don’t get me wrong, working with the officials is always a good idea. Goalies should always make a habit of helping officials throughout the game.

BUT…. getting scored on is different.

The main objective after letting the puck in is to mentally prepare for the next save opportunity, not, admitting defeat by digging a puck out of the net (scoring teams loves to watch the defeated goalie pull the puck out).

What to do?

Get the heck out of the crease, skate towards the boards, refocus on stopping the next shot, allow the official to get the puck and then skate back into the crease and set-up for the face-off (take a drink of water before or after leaving the crease).

NET LESSON

Refocus, Refocus, Refocus after a goal is scored on you. The best way to get ready for the next shot is to get out of the goal area and away from the celebrating opponents. Goalies have a responsibility to their team to be mentally prepared for every shot throuhout the game. It can be hard to focus after a goal is scored so make your job easier by getting “out-of-dodge” and releasing the anxiety goals against can cause. Go tap the side boards and make sure you are ready for the next shot.

How to mentally prepare for the next shot will be the subject of a post coming soon!!


Is Pressure Getting to Price??

April 29, 2008

http://watch.tsn.ca/nhl/clip49381#clip49381

http://watch.tsn.ca/nhl/clip49572#clip49528

Known for his coolness (well spoken of in this blog), Carey Price of the Habs may be cracking a bit. He has not been as consistent as the team (and province of Quebec) would like. His performance last night in Philly (9 saves on 12 shots) was shakey at best with two questionable goals on shots that have to be saved this time of year.

Can he rebound and play as the Habs expect? I’m willing to go out on a limb and say he will have a very good Game Four. He has a tendency to bounce back after poor starts (see Game 7 against Boston) but he needs to work on his consistency. The Flyers know his weakness (glove hand, particularly high) and have tried to exploit it every shot.

Montreal could be the city that puts the most pressure on their pro team (any sport). Every year they miss-out on prized free agents (particurly non-French Canadians) due to the microscope the city and press put on each player.  Hopefully Price can fight his away through this by putting all distractions and pressure (on- and off-ice) and play well.

One note, it is refreshing Price speaks to the media. Very few goalies speak to the media, particurarly during the playoffs and especially when they are considered playing poorly. Says a ton about his character.

All goalies (Hab fans or not) should be cheering this 20-year old on.


Goalies Always Have to Answer for Team Mistakes

April 27, 2008

http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_9068391

Why is goaltending the most demanding position in all of sports? The perfect example is Jose Theodore.

Against Minnesota, Theo played his best hockey in many years and had people thinking he could be depended on for a trip to the Stanley Cup. A few days off, a bout of the stomach flu and the next thing he knows his play is 180 degrees in the opposite direction and the critics (who mind you were thinking he was the next Roy 72-hours earlier) are questioning his ability and whether he should play.

Are these questions warranted? Theo has not been very good this series and I think there should be some concern. But, the team as a whole has been just as bad. It would be charitable to call the Avs “competitive” in this series. Aside from approximately 30 minutes of play (120 total so far), they have been brutal. No intensity (which leads to losing battles for loose pucks) combined with undisciplined (Cody McLeod and Jeff Finger’s penalties) and individual/selfish play has lead to a 0-2 series record. Add a few key injuries and the receipe is a disaster.

I have read a few opinions about the series and no one is calling the team out for the lack of intensity. Like many things in life, critics are finding it easier to call attention to someone (Theo) that is only part of the problem instead of the entire story (team play).

That, my dear goalies, is part of the reason playing in goal is so demanding. When goals are scored, everyone knows the goalie missed it. All scoring chances and goals against have at least two mistakes leading to the opportunity. What fans do not see are most of the mistakes the forwards and defense make (many of them are several seconds before the scoring chance).

Net Lesson

As they say, hockey is a game of mistakes and, unfortunately, goalies are held responsible for their entire team. There will always be critics and someone blaming the goalie. It’s part of the job description each goalie should have seen before signing-up. Don’t let it distract you because there is nothing you can do aside from working hard to better your chances to making those key saves when your teammates make their mistakes.


101 Shots, 98 Saves, Not Good Enough???

April 26, 2008

http://www.theahl.com/news/league/index.html?article_id=8640

“Philadelphia took an incredible 101 shots on goal in the game, and Albany’s Michael Leighton, who won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender during the 2007-08 regular season, made 98 saves, believed to be an AHL record. The Phantoms’ Scott Munroe stopped 65 of 67 shots to earn the win.”

Leighton has never been able to stick in the NHL – games with Chicago, Nashville and Philly (http://hockeygoalies.org/bio/leighton.html) – but maybe he will get another look. To have such a great season in the AHL and then last into the 5th overtime while facing 101 shots… someone should consider him…

Way to go Michael!!!


Message to All Youth

April 25, 2008

Yesterday I was notified one of the players from the Colorado Thunderbirds ’91 (team I coached last season)  was in an accident and in the Intensive Care Unit at Boulder Community Hospital. I went to visit him and sit with is mother last night. While there I found out he had been playing around with friends and jumped onto the hood of his friend’s truck where he lost his balance and landed on his head. He has a fractured skull, bruised brain and severe consussion. More tests were to be run today to determine the extent of the injuries. There is a very good chance he is done playing hockey.

The reason I include this on a goalie-only blog is all kids should know this – no one is invincible. There are consequences for poor choices including severe risk to your health and well-being. Have fun but do not take anything too far. As I wrote in a book I left for him-

“In hockey you always get another shift – another chance. In life you don’t. Live life with how you play the game while keeping in mind when you’re called to the bench, it’s over.”

 I continued in an email to the other members of the Thunderbirds ’91 after my visit-

This accident was the result of screwing around with friends. There was no reason for this to happen – think before you do something stupid. As (Player’s Name) is finding out, he’s not invincible. Neither are you. He learned the hard way. Will you?

Always have fun with your friends. But, if something is going on (or about to happen) that you find yourself thinking it may not be the best thing to do, follow your instinct.