Fleury or Osgood for Conn Smythe? Ummm…

Will another Stanley Cup rid Chris Osgood of his Rodney Dangerfield reputation? Will a first Stanley Cup get Marc-Andre Fleury invited to Team Canada’s Olympic squad in 2010? Hopefully the answer to each question is ‘yes’. Will one of these two accept the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP? Odds are that answer will be no, although each has played well enough to lay claim to it.

12 of the 42 Conn Smythe winners have been goalies, and in two cases (Ron Hextall in 1987 and Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003) came despite losing the finals. 1-in-4 odds aren’t bad but certaintly aren’t enough to simply bet on the best goalie in the finals. Each time the Conn Smythe has been won by a goalie its come from a dominating performance that simply couldn’t be ignored. Continue reading

Side by Side Goalie Icons

Ever since I was a kid I thought the subject of Ken Danby’s famous painting, At the Crease, was Ken Dryden. I was never told it was Dryden and I never read that it was Dryden, I just assumed it was. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as demonstrated by this anecdote from Danby himself:

“One day, a woman complimented me on my painting ‘At the Crease’, which she referred to as, “That painting you did of the goalie, Ken Dryden”. She said that she had long had a print of it in her home and really enjoyed it. I thanked her, but also explained that, “It isn’t an image of Ken Dryden”. Looking puzzled, she replied, “Yes it is.” I responded, “No it isn’t. ” After a long pause, she loudly exclaimed, “Yes it is!” I quickly apologized, with the sudden realization that she was right. It’s really whomever one wants it to be.”

He’s right. I guess I should have thought it was an image of me! But now I’ve decided the subject is Vladislav Tretiak. Today the IIHF’s all-time all-star team was announced and to nobody’s surprise Tretiak was selected as the goalie. I went searching for Tretiak photos and the first one I found was the one you see above. Is it not scarily similar to Danby’s painting? At the time of the painting we were living in fear of the Reds so there’s no way Danby would have truly made it look like Tretiak by using the same helmet/mask (besides, the stark white mask is far more powerful). But the painting was released in 1972, the same year Tretiak was introduced to the world with his stellar play in the Canada-USSR Summit Series.

I don’t know if Danby ever acknowledged one specific subject for his iconic painting and sadly he passed away last fall so I will never have the chance to ask him. But I guess I know what his answer would be anyway… “of course it’s Tretiak, it’s whomever you want it to be.”

UPDATE:  Apparently the subject of At The Crease was Dennis Kemp, a Junior B goalie in Guelph who played for Walter Gretzky.  There’s a good read here on how his identity was tracked down after Danby’s death and how Wayne Gretzky once made a slip on protecting Kemp’s identity.

Osgood Top Five Ever. No Joke!

My part-time attempts at writing a goalie blog simply cannot even be compared to the columns of veteran hockey writer Michael Farber so rather than expand upon his article about Chris Osgood I’m just going to send you to his Sports Illustrated column.

But first I do have to explain the title of this post. Osgood currently ranks 15th in all-time career wins, and 4th amongst active goalies. I had no idea! Barring a career-ending injury (Osgood is 35 years old) it is completely reasonable for Osgood to move from his current number of 363 wins to 447, the number of wins by Terry Sawchuk who sits 5th on the career list. A spot in the top 10 feels like a lock (knock on wood Ozzie).

See the complete list of career wins here and read Farber’s column here. And as indicated by the photo, hi-five to Osgood for his silent and humble climb up the list of the NHL’s top goalies.

Flyers Have Great Goalie History but Only One Cup Winner

Pete Peeters came within a game (and a missed offside call) of doing it in 1980. Five years later Pelle Lindbergh won one game in the finals but ultimately lost to the Oilers. Ron Hextall almost did it in 1987 after being down three games to one against the Oilers and then fell short against the Red Wings ten years later. And this year Martin Biron has led an unexpected run by the Flyers to the Conference Final. But in the 40 years of franchise history, Bernie Parent remains the only Flyers goalie to win the Stanley Cup.

Parent still lives in the Philadelphia area and has embraced his role at the Godfather of Flyers goalies. He proudly watches each successive generation of goalies try to duplicate his success and likes what he sees this year. “Biron is playing well… he is seeing the puck in slow motion”. What Parent likes most about Biron is his ability to bounce back. “Just because he has a bad game or a bad stretch, he doesn’t question himself as a goalie”.

Parent certainly know of what he speaks. After returning from the WHA Philadelphia Blazers back to the NHL’s Flyers he led the Broad Street Bullies to back-to-back Cups in 1974 and ’75. Parent was such a dominant force for the Flyers that he also won the Vezina and the Conn Smythe trophies both those years as well (Mario Lemieux is the only other player to win the Conn Smythe back-to-back). I was only five years old when the Flyers won their first Cup so I don’t remember seeing Parent play but my dad has told me a number of times that Parent meant more to the Flyers than Ken Dryden ever meant to the Canadiens’ run of four Cups.

Will Biron reach the pinnacle that eluded so many other great Flyer goalies? He seems to have the demeanor for it. Click here to read a good article in Philly.com about the history of Philadelphia goalies. There are some interesting comments from Hextall about the amount of credit he received for the Flyers run in ’87 as well as some observations from current San Jose Shark Brian Boucher that prove the Flyers goalies are all part of the same brotherhood.

Keystone State Goes To War

I just found this Time magazine cover from 1975 with a fantastic photo of Bernie Parent, the last (and only) goalie to win the Stanley Cup for the Flyers.  I keep reading about this year’s “battle of Pennsylvania” between the Flyers and Penguins but the mid-70’s Flyers fought a war every time they stepped on the ice, regardless of opponent.  

Today’s goalies masks are truly ‘art’ but I can’t think of a single modern-day mask as beautiful and intimidating as Parent’s.  Imagine being an NHL forward in 1975, lifting your head to take a look and seeing this?  The only way the Cup returns to Broad Street in 2008 is if Marty Biron plays well enough to get his mug on the cover of Time.  Well, maybe just Sports Illustrated.

Turco Going ‘Home’ to Exorcize Demons

As the Dallas Stars prepare for their return to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000 a lot is being made of Marty Turco’s career record against the Red Wings (2-10-5). Even more is being said about his record at Joe Louis arena in Detroit (0-7-2; 3.17 GAA). Should Stars fans be worried about a goalie who is playing in his first conference final? Hardly.

For a few years Turco has been considered one of the top goalies in the NHL but he has consistently faced criticism for only winning one playoff round since he assumed the starting role from Ed Belfour in ’03. This year he has delivered the type of goaltending required in the playoffs with a 1.73 GAA and a .923 save percentage. Not to mention the best game of his life in stopping 61 shots against the Sharks in their 4OT thriller in game seven.

So which Marty Turco will the Wings see in game one on Thursday? The one who’s winless at the Joe as a professional or the one who led Michigan to two NCAA titles and used to love playing college games at the Joe? According to Turco himself it’s the latter: “(the Joe) has a lot of great memories for me, not just the disappointing ones in the NHL. I’m really looking forward to going back there and looking to have some more success.”

It’s always seemed like it was just a matter of time before Turco took a leading role on the Stars and it appears that time is now.

Goalie Photos (and cool jerseys) From World Championships

Want to see some really cool throwback jerseys from around the world? Want to see what your favorite goalie looks like when he combines his NHL colors with his national colors? (sometimes it’s a natural fit and sometimes it’s just u-g-l-y) Want to see some goalies you’ve never heard of but are shining on a world stage? Check out the photos I’ve pulled from the official IIHF site. All photos are courtesy of the IIHF and Hockey Hall of Fame.

Canadian Cam Ward’s Hurricane equipment is a perfect fit with his national jersey.

 

 

 

Really cool throwback jerseys from Finland.  Almost the Suomi Penguins.

 

 

 

More famous on their soccer team but the powder blues of Italia look great! The big ad on the ref’s belly?… not so much.

 

 

 

Martin Gerber reprising his ’06 Olympic role when he stoned Canada in a 2-0 win.  Might the gold Senators trim be an indicator of how Suisse fares in this tournament?  No, of course not.

 

 

Not a throwback jersey but I love the old leather-style coloring of the gloves and pads on Slovakia’s Robert Kristan.

 

 

 

Norwegian goalies apparently feel the need to wander… probably safer to meander around their fjords (I just wanted to say “fjords” in a goalie blog)

 

 

Yikes! Yellow, black, red, white and blue, oh my.  No problem for opposing shooters to see Tim Thomas in the USA net.

 

 

 

In the last three months Cristobal Huet has played for the Habs, the Caps and now the French all without needing to change his gloves and pads.  Convenient, n’est pa?

 

 

Good grief… every spring the Germans remind us of the horrible Canucks jerseys from the 80’s.  And every spring they end up with the same result as those Canucks.

 

 

Sharks’ German third-stringer Dimitrij Patzgold looking much better in the German throwback jersey.

 

 

 

Cam Ward wearing Canada’s throwback jersey, a.k.a. their old Canada Cup jersey.  Just kind of screams “we’re going to win and you’re not”.  Unless you’re the Soviets and it’s 1981 and… ugh, never mind.

 

 

Latvian fans are rabid and it looks like one of these women missed her vaccination shot. I sat in a sea of Latvians at the Torino games and had the most fun of my Olympic visit. I think I sat behind that guy in the hat.

 

 

Check out the official IIHF site for all the photos from every game.