The Stamp of Credence

Justin Goldman

2009-05-18

Luongo

 

Thanks to the Beast Tracker , which can personally assist you in analyzing post-season goaltending, I’ve uncovered some awesome trends through the first two rounds. Beyond getting a better grip on how each goalie is performing statistically, a number of other in-game aspects have enriched my understanding of what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Two of these trends that are of utmost importance, experience and exhaustion, will be discussed in this week’s School of Block lecture.

 

Let’s start with the latter, exhaustion. Roberto Luongo, please come to the front of the class, you’re my prime example. Roberto faced 304 shots against in just 10 games this post-season, averaging just over 30 shots per game. His play worsened as each game rolled along, a simple indicator that he was over-worked physically. Combined with the emotional toll he took from being team captain, these two aspects proved to be the source of his exhaustion.

What’s the lesson learned here? Never make a goaltender the team captain, no matter how good he happens to be. An elite goalie needs to spend all of his energy focusing on winning, continually refining their positioning and rebound control, etc. To take away from that focus by forcing him to deal with the media and the other nuances of being the team captain is to drain their energy and strength down the stretch.

And what exactly do I mean by exhaustion? When a goalie can no longer maintain the focus needed to stop every single puck fired his way in an efficient and effective way. That means they can no longer move laterally from post to post to make a save without giving up a massive rebound. It means they struggle to cover the puck when it’s at their feet amidst madness in the crease. It means they are lunging in an effort to knock pucks away instead of showing patience. It also means struggling to make the routine save without exerting more effort than needed.

Luongo failed to do these things in the final period of Game 6, making it extremely obvious he was just flat out tired. But to his defense, it was not his lack of focus in that game that caused the Canucks to lose the series. Sometimes the players in front of a goalie need to recognize when said goalie needs a break. Detroit is brilliant at tightening up defensively for Chris Osgood when he needs it: they can put up periods where they only allow 4-5 shots against on a regular basis. If you want to talk about sittin’ pretty with a lead, well, the Wings are the kings of this.

But even with his groin injury giving him time to rest up for the