Steve Yzerman recently attended the World Championships in Switzerland to scout for the 2010 Olympics. With that in mind, and after some surprise performances in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the time has come to begin the goalie watch for the Games. The Canadian home ice advantage, the use of an NHL-sized ice surface and the league’s unwillingness to commit to the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia are laying the groundwork for what could be the best hockey tournament of all time. So it’s only fitting to expect the best display of goaltending. Most countries will hold summer camps and then evaluate the first half of next season before will making their final decisions but we say let the armchair quarterbacking begin! The top contenders for the gold medal will each need to make some potentially difficult decisions so Tenders Lounge will dedicate separate posts to the medal contenders. First up, the home team Canadians.
Not only are does Team Canada face the pressure of being the host country but they also need to remove the bitter taste from a 7th place finish at the 2006 Torino games.
Luongo and Brodeur were expected to reprise their roles from Torino. Will anyone push them out of the picture?
The much-maligned and often-questioned Chris Osgood delivered another strong performance and led the Detroit Red Wings to a six-game Stanley Cup victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Osgood is finally starting to receive some of the overdue respect that is clearly due to him. But really, how could hockey writers possibly say anything negative about him now, even if they wanted to? Pretty easily apparently! In his on-ice interview before the Cup was presented, NBC’s Pierre McGuire started off by pointing out (again) that Osgood was supposed to be a backup and after acknowledging the obvious, i.e. that Osgood was now a Cup-winning starter, McGuire increduously asked “how did that happen?”
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
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.