Since we're transitioning from the Olympic aftermath to the onset of March Madness, today's lecture will reflect on a number of goaltending dynamics that were revealed to me over the last two weeks. I think these trends will not only affect how your fantasy goalies play this week, but if the Olympics were any indication of what the NHL's playoff push will be like, they could impact your goalie's long-term potential as well.
The first influential goalie trend I witnessed during the Olympics was the outrageous irony behind the goal line. The lack of a trapezoid, which was supposed to increase the goalie’s ability to move and handle the puck, had the exact opposite effect. Numerous bad passes, turnovers and terrible decisions with the puck were a dirty scourge on Olympic goaltending. Adding to the madness was the fact that no goalie made bigger mistakes than the puck-moving wizard, Martin Brodeur. But just about every goalie was victimized by this illusion of time, even Ryan Miller.
I call it an illusion because of the simple fact that goalies were deceived by the speed of plays (and players) coming at them. Due to a lack of a trapezoid, goalies were caught in many situations where the extra space to move around influenced their timing and decision making. Combined with the intensity of games and the speed of forechecks, goalies made too many delayed decisions, shanked too many clearing attempts and had way too many turnovers. You can also credit the decreasing ice quality as a slight factor, at least as much as it affected the forwards.
The next dynamic that wreaked havoc on goalies was the lively boards and the kick-plate. Some of you might remember my diatribe into the kick-plate dynamic less than a year ago, when Niklas Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings clearly used their springy boards to their advantage when the Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway.
The Kick-plate Headache was alive and well in the Olympics. There were at least a few situations in each game, sometimes in each period, where it forced goalies to scramble or execute outside of their comfort zone. You can also point to issues with a protruding stantion behind one of the nets in Canada Place as a distraction as well. It was brought up numerous times on TV and even though it didn’t rear its ugly head often, it still loomed over goalies.
Probably the most interesting dynamic in my Goalie’s Olympic Notebook, however, was the difference in performance between those that started every game and those that had to deal with sitting on the bench. What turned out to be a clear trend was frustr