My job here at TendersLounge is not to break news (I can’t compete with ESPN for that) but to comment on how it affects the world of goalies. Today the goalie world loses one of the best there’s ever been (I’m not eulogizing him, he is still alive!) as Dominik Hasek has retired from the NHL.
He is the only goalie to win the league MVP award twice. He has six Vezina trophies. He’s won the Stanley Cup twice. He was one half of the most infamous goal in recent NHL history and part of one of the most famous games in recent Olympic history. He finished his career with the highest save percentage ever.
All of those accomplishments might not even cover his biggest accomplishment and that was changing the way the position was played. You may not have been able to call it a style, but he changed the game none-the-less. Call it the ‘Hasek style of goaltending’. Call it the “stop-the-puck-with-any-part-of-your-body style”. Or as MasterCard so eloquently put it years ago, “having a slinky for a spine… priceless”.
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.
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.
When I first read that Jaroslav Halak was starting game four in place of Carey Price my first reaction was to pat myself on the shoulder for one of my first posts in which I predicted Halak would be the first backup goalie to make a big impression in relief. (I’m not counting Chris Osgood taking over the Wings’ crease because he’s really a co-number-one, not a real backup).
Lucky for me I kept my fingers off the keyboard as Martin Biron (the true goaltending story of this year’s playoffs) won another game for his Flyers. Only in the lonely world of a blogger can one take solace in at least suggesting that Carey Price might not be able to carry the load but I guess that’s all I have right now. What do you think, can Habs’ goalie coach Rolie Melanson help Price bounce back and get the Habs back into this series or are we looking at a Keystone State conference final?