Early Blunders and Asunders

Justin Goldman


Mason - ICON SMI


The duality of a goalie's first game is something I'll forever battle with internally. On the left side of my brain, it's merely a single game over the course of a seven-month season. On the right side, however, it's clearly the most important game in regards to their start. And that's when the battle ensues, as I must weigh the pros and cons of their success and failure to begin the regular season, and how that might affect their performances in the coming weeks.


The first game does one of two things. Either it establishes an early positive presence and creates more opportunities, or it slams the door shut on momentum and opens the door for the backup to get his early chance. Because of this, the result is much more important than save percentages and goals against averages, as it could set the tone for the entire season. Momentum is created or destroyed, good vibes are spread or evaporated, confidence is instilled or lost and the ability to post solid stats comes easier or harder (see Craig Anderson in October of 2009).


So no matter how right or wrong all of my summer predictions look just five days into the regular season, there's no way to combat the spontaneity of situation. This is where I really get frustrated, because once the puck drops, as we all know, anything can happen. And since there are still so many questions to be answered, it literally comes down to every single shot and save a goalie makes. I'm left to my own devices. I can only admit when I'm wrong, smile when I'm right and start dissecting trends.




Over the weekend, I discovered two goaltending trends. One was the impact of an early goal against and the other was the brutal ineffectiveness of the VHS save selection. VHS stands for Vertical-Horizontal Stance and is a common move goalies make when the puck is just below or above their goal line. Simply put, one pad goes horizontal along the ice and the other stays vertical along the post. This allows a goalie to have one leg underneath him, which improves and increases the speed and power of a lateral push across the crease to the opposite side.


Steve Mason's first goal against on Friday, Antero Niittymaki's first goal against on Saturday, Johan Hedberg's second goal against on Saturday and Marc-Andre Fleury's untimely goal against with 1:49 left in a 3-2 loss on Saturday were all a result of brutal VHS execution. Why has this happened so many times already? It's a sheer lack of timing and mechanics, the casu