Jun
15

Trying to understand the psychology of a goaltender

June 15, 2018, by

Photo Credit: Lasik MD

Goaltending is a unique position within the hockey world.  It is wildly misunderstood and poorly analyzed. The industry as a whole seems to pass the buck to “goalie people” when seeking information or guidance about pretty much anything regarding the position.  This correlates to the way fans view the position, as well.  Coming from the perspective of someone who plays, studies and analyzes the nuances of the discipline, this can be quite frustrating.

One of the most egregiously misunderstood aspects is the psychology associated with manning the crease. It is a complicated relationship you have with just about everyone on the ice; from the head coach to your teammates, referees and fans.  From reading commentary -not only from this site, but from the larger media, in general- how a person feels about a goaltender’s role, value or behavior can vary greatly. 

In Rangerland, this is often a discussion involving Henrik Lundqvist, and his many faults or virtues. This morning, I thought I would provide some context to that discussion.  I want to give everyone a basic primer in goaltender psychology and the factors that influence the way a goaltender sees the game and its environment.

There are several factors that make this a difficult exercise.  First, the perspective and understanding of this experience is innate to goaltenders.  It is second nature, and very rarely does it have to be explained to those outside the position.  Second, you have many disparate elements that functionally add up to the same thing.  When things are going well, goaltenders are psychologically similar to every other athlete. It’s when things go wrong that the mindset becomes unique.  Due to this, I apologize if the conclusions seem redundant, but bear with me.  When this is over, I hope you all understand your goalie, whether on the ice or on TV, just a little bit more.

From the outset, a goaltender is burdened by the proverbial “you had one job” viewpoint on the role he or she plays in the game.  Everything springs from that basic concept.  A goaltender’s job is to stop the puck.  Most people don’t care how or why, just that it gets done.  This frames the most basic misunderstanding of a goalie’s psyche.  Just because the job is conceptually simple, doesn’t mean that the skills or approach to that job is.

Goaltenders in hockey are fundamentally different than the rest of their teammates.  If you were to explain what a skater of any position must be able to do during the course of a game, you could fill pages.  Everything from scoring to defending to getting sticks in lanes and making quality passes. For a goaltender, what he or she has to do is stop the puck.

The benefits and consequences for skaters are typically fluid.  You can look at a player’s time on the ice through a series of dozens of decisions and actions; some commendable and some not.  However, the biggest difference is that when a goaltender makes a mistake, the consequences are absolute.  Pointing this out is not to seek sympathy; this is why we signed up for the position, after all.  It is to delineate the specific differences in how we approach our work versus a skater.

There is an inherent isolation to the position.  The old adage of the “last line of defense”, if you will.  You stand in that crease alone.  The puck got past you. You don’t have the comradery and communication of sitting on the bench with your teammates between shifts.  You naturally develop a mentality of self-accountability and your skills development tends to focus on the individual. In stark contrast to your teammates, who’s skill development focuses on interactions with other players on the ice (passing, systems, special teams, etc.).

This will typically manifest itself in the reaction to negative experiences, whether it is an individual goal allowed or a prolonged series of losses.  The first thing to remember is that you are absolutely helpless when it comes to the positive side of the scoring ledger.  You cannot score goals (save for the once-a-decade empty netter).  The best you can do is distribute the puck to someone else to score a goal.  You have no control at all over 50% of the game.  This creates an anxiety and a frustration that is difficult for other skaters to understand.

A fact of the matter is that most goals in the NHL (and even at lower levels) are scored due to some type of mistake; whether it is the goaltender’s or a skater’(s).  Skaters can make mistakes all game, as they have their teammates and their goaltender willing to try to mitigate the cost of that mistake.  It’s a little different with goaltenders.  If a goaltender makes a mistake, chances are that puck is ending up in the back of the net.  The whole nature of the position is to minimize the number of mistakes you make over the duration of the game.

This isn’t to suggest that is the mindset of the individual goaltender, however.  The in-game psychology is a constant alignment of mind/body connections that allow you to feel confident in your positioning, skating, puck tracking and general focus.  It’s really no different than any other athlete in that regard.  Alternatively, it is exceptionally rare in sports that you can do your job comprehensively and technically well, and still experience a negative outcome.

That more than anything else, is the true burden of the goaltender.  You can play a situation perfectly and you’re still looking up at that red light.  If you have never put the pads on, I cannot explain to you the level of “oh, come on!” frustration that can create.  There are times when you want to absolutely unload on the players on your team after a goal.  Lazy backchecking, blown coverage, mis-communications, bad turnovers…I could go on all day.  All of these things materially sabotage your ability to do your job well.

Different goaltenders handle this emotional component in different ways.  Some externalize it violently (see Hextall, Ron).  Some internalize it.  Most are somewhere in the middle.  Obviously, you need to be accountable for your own mistakes and sometimes you just tip your cap to the shooter when they truly earn it.  There are times, though, regrettably, that your frustration vents out at teammates.  Every goaltender is guilty of this.

Anger and frustration are also not necessarily compartmentalized.  When you observe a goaltender appearing angry/frustrated/exasperated, etc., it is not clear where that emotion is directed.  It could just as easily be directed at himself, or a combination of feeling like you could have played the scenario better, but still irritated at being put into it by the players on the ice. It’s very rarely as simple as “the left defenseman screwed up, so I am mad at him” or “my team is hanging me out to dry”.

I know what some of you are thinking: “you shouldn’t let the other team see that you are angry/they are in your head/you can be thrown off your game”, etc., etc.  Sorry, but that is just not going to happen.  Your failure to stop the puck in that instance has a significant effect on the outcome of the game.  You are going to react to that failure.  Some guys are better at hiding it than others, but it is an inevitable outcome.  It is a very difficult thing to believe that you are giving everything you have in a situation and someone else’s laziness or poor decision-making cost you that effort.

Dave mentioned in his post the other day that he believed Hank should be the next captain of the re-building Rangers.  Surprisingly, I’m going to break with Dave on this one.  I honestly do not believe goalies should be captains.  Goalies can be leaders, and damn good ones, but the basic function you provide to your team is not one that is relatable enough to the rest of the group to serve in that role.  When you look back in the history of great goaltenders, there are an incredibly small amount that seemed to outwardly create that supportive environment for their teammates to rally around.  Most of the greats were borderline obsessive personalities that were prone to intense outbursts and emotional responses.  Great goalies hate to lose, hate to be scored on and hate to see their teammates contribute to that failure.  They are competitors, but their perspective does not align with the rest of the team nearly often enough to be the guiding hand.

Goaltenders are complicated people.  We believe with every fiber of our being that having a disk of frozen rubber shot at us at 80+ mph is the most fun thing we can do with our free time.  We see the game differently.  We are fortunate in that we get a 360 degree look at how plays develop and breakdowns in flow and coverage.  However, it is a blessing and a curse.  The absolutism of the position can distance you from your teammates.  Now, this is not to paint goaltenders as bad teammates or people always looking to throw the blame on others.  Goaltenders are always the hardest on themselves. For 90% of the game, you give all you have back there for the other five guys on the ice.  It’s just that getting scored on triggers a complicated set of emotions.

This is part of the difference in how fans see things, as well.  Some people see a guy on an island doing everything he can despite the actions of those around him.  Others see a selfish loner who would rather blame others when he is ultimately accountable.  The truth is somewhere in the middle and it can be very difficult to understand unless you really care about understanding.

For those of you who skate yourselves, I always encourage people to take a practice or a scrimmage or grab some buddies and rent a sheet.  Throw the pads on and try to understand the position a little more. Next time you watch Hank look visibly dejected and throw a little shade at a snow-angel’ing defenseman, understand that is a complex response and he is only reacting that way because of how intensely he cares and wants to win.  People mistake this reaction for playing only for yourself or your own glory.  This is simply not the case.  To excel in this position, keeping the puck out of the net has to be the most important thing.  Whether it’s your fault or your teammates’, the fact that the puck went in should make you that angry.  Otherwise, you should be looking for another goaltender.

"Trying to understand the psychology of a goaltender", 5 out of 5 based on 11 ratings.
Categories : Analysis, Goaltending

51 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    We, as Ranger fans, have been given a tremendous gift in Henrik Lundqvist.

    The Rangers can be praised to hills on picking this guy in the 7th round, but the fact of the matter is that the scout that discovered him wanted Henrik picked much earlier in the draft. It was only, and basically, to “shut the scout up” by picking Henrik with a normally useless 7th round pick.

    The Rangers, as an organization, were very lucky, but the scout was dead on. Henrik is a HOF lock and a top 3 Ranger of all time, IMO. He has done it for many years and continues to play at a high level. Last year was crap, nothing to see here. Bad Rangers’ team, injuries, including his own knee injury. Let’s see what he does this year.

    Tremendous competitor despite the number of (tough) games he has played and the number of shots he has faced, including the high danger shots he faces that rival lower echelon teams in the NHL.

    Thank you Henrik.

    • Ray says:

      Hall of Fame is not such a meaningful standard. I looked at career stats of Giacomin, Vanbiesbrouck, Richter and Lundqvist. Hank is about even with the Bieser and miles ahead of the other two. But of course, Hank and Eddie played in low goal eras and Vanbiesbrouck played during a high scoring era. The idea that Eddie is in, Hank is a lock and guys like Vanbiesbrouck and CuJo get little regard is absurd.

      True facts: The only post Billy Smith goalies in the HOF are Fuhr, Roy, Belfour, and Hasek. The number of goalies not in the Hall who played 40+ games in 1961-1962 is zero. [Admittedly, no Boston goalie met that standard.]

      • Richter1994 says:

        I understand what you’re saying.

        But saying (and being true) that Henrik is a top 3 Ranger of all time definitely means something.

        Fans may not agree, which is fine, but the numbers indicate that Henrik has carried his team year after year.

        • Ray says:

          I don’t know that I would rank Hank top 3 all time, nor am I sure what that means.

          Do you rank Hank above Messier for example? Obviously (I hope) Messier was the better hockey player, but of course he played relatively few years in a Ranger uniform. Phil Esposito was another player who starred for the Rangers (but not for too long) and was better than Hank. Or Jaromir Jagr.

          Then there are guys on the other end of their careers. How much do you penalize the likes of Ratelle, Park, Vanbiesbrouck for not being career Rangers?

          Certainly I have no problem dismissing Plante, Sawchuck, Gretzky, but it is kind of unfair to restrict the pool to guys like Giacomin, Gilbert, Richter, Leetch, who were (at least mostly) career Rangers.

          Curious who your top three are.

          As for Hank carrying the Rangers, two things.

          2005-2013, OK he did, but not all that far.
          2013-2018. He was a passenger on a good team.

          I think you are seeing what you want to see. However, I do believe that there are multiple interpretations of what has happened the last five years. I believe that it is clear that Vigneault created a system in which Talbot and Raanta thrived and Lundqvist was not particularly effective. Whether this was due to Hank’s decline or the system cannot be found in the numbers. Perhaps Quinn can create a world in which Hank is again valuable; perhaps not.

          • Richter1994 says:

            “I believe that it is clear that Vigneault created a system in which Talbot and Raanta thrived and Lundqvist was not particularly effective”

            Based on what sample size for either one? OR, was it that the Rangers played a much more defensive games when these goalies were in net for fear that they did not have the “safety net” in goal that they usually have?

            My top 5 Rangers, in order: Messier, Leetch, Henrik, Gilbert, Ratelle.

            • Ray says:

              I would put Brad Park ahead of Lundqvist. He was the consistent #2 Norris candidate, which was best possible in a Bobby Orr world. And (here we will have to disagree) he was a great Ranger for nearly as long as Hank was. Comparing Hank to Gilbert or Ratelle is hard because of the apples and oranges of comparing tenders to skaters.

              HOWEVER, if I really was to be contrary, I have a hard time finding another name to keep Hank out of the top six. And hard to argue whether it’s top three or top six, that is awfully good. [To me, best Ranger means best in last 60 years as I really can’t gauge the older guys either by numbers or non-existent memory.]

              On the Vigneault era comments:

              Sample size is not important for all questions. Let’s say you and I walk into a casino with $100 to play 21. Suppose you count cards but still lose your money; suppose I walk away with $250. Does that prove I am a better player than you? Of course not – under my premise you are the better player. BUT I still had a good day and you still had a bad day and if someone had fronted either of us, they would have been happier fronting me.

              And in the present arena, I am not saying Talbot and Raanta will be better tenders going forward – or even that they were better as Rangers, only that they were more successful in keeping the puck out of the net in the games that were actually played.

              For the record, Talbot/Raanta started 97 games and if you are willing to throw that out, how about a 126 game sample, hardly better, which is Hank’s entire playoff career.

              As for the Rangers playing differently, statistics can’t explain why something happened. What is true however is that the Rangers were not better offensively when Hank was in net, so if the Rangers played more defensively without Hank, they should have been doing that all the time.

              Here is complete opinion. I believe that Hank’s lack of success was team-related. I believe the team does play differently. I remember 2013-2014 when Talbot had such incredible numbers. I saw him play. He just didn’t seem that good. When playing well (which is not always), Talbot is solid and mostly lets the defense do the work.

              Finally, I think the real problem is twofold. There is a trade-off in defending between preventing good shots and helping the goalie control his game (prevent screens, etc.). Hank’s mentality is that he wants to be in control, to see everything, and maybe that pushes things too far in one direction. The other issue is that it always seems to be the defensemen’s fault. The defense is walking on eggshells and can’t be comfortable. I haven’t heard him speak that much, so this is no doubt unfair, but I have no recollection of Hank ever praising or (verbally) defending a teammate.
              OTOH, we know he calls them out.

              • Richter1994 says:

                On Brad Park, I think there was a real difference in the way he played with the Rangers vs the Bees. Not that he didn’t play well for the Rangers but do you agree that Brad played on another level in Boston? I do, so that fact does not put him in the conversation for top 5 Ranger.

                On Gilbert and Ratelle. They had each other, making them franchise players. So to try and say how good they were individually is very tough. In comparison, Leetch could control a game by himself, hence the high rating from me. Look who’s been in front of Henrik and he still has done what he has done. That’s why I put him at #3. Messier will forever hold the top spot for bringing the Cup here.

                I often wonder how Henrik’s teammates really like him. I have never heard anything negative about him from my buddies in the locker room, but you never know.

                Good post Raymond.

              • Ray says:

                I left the NYC area in 1969 and used to listen to Ranger playoff games on a transistor radio – including Boston broadcasts from 1000 miles away. Following hockey was hard. When the Rangers traded away Ratelle and Park and faded, I continued to follow hockey very loosely. I don’t believe I ever saw John Davidson play. It was only with the Vanbiesbrouck resurgence that I again returned to hockey and Ranger fanaticism. So I really can’t speak of Park as a B.

                And that paragraph really speaks to Lundqvist’s value. I did not walk away from the Rangers when Messier was traded and the futility set in, but the enthusiasm waned. Hank brought all that back. He is a true hero. Where we differ is that you regard Hank the same way I regarded Messier when he came back from Vancouver, the key to the solution to the Ranger problems. While I regard Hank now as who the Messier who returned actually was. While i regard you as naive in this matter (and you may not be), it is certainly less naive than my Messier worship.

                I think the Gilbert-Ratelle comparison is tricky but I think you are probably right and Hank should be in the top four. Honestly I think the Park v Lundqvist comparison depends on how one sees the last five years of Hank. IOW, you should rank Hank first and I should not.

              • Richter1994 says:

                If you look at team impact, Hank vs Park, then there is no comparison my friend.

                Hank has basically been on an island by himself during his time here. He’s had Jagr, but those teams had one line, Jagr’s, that was it.

                Hank had Nash and Gaborik, but what did they do in the playoffs, when it mattered? Basically nothing.

                The 2 best playoff performers during Hank’s time here were #1, Hank, by far and away, and #2, a distant second, Brassard.

  2. Lee says:

    Preach brother! Great post.

  3. Walt says:

    Goalies are a breed of their own. What else can we say but that they usually are an eccentric personality!!!!!!!

    Marc Andre Fleury skates away after the net after a goal is scored on him, Pat Roy used to talk to the goal posts, etc, etc. Bottom line they are a strange bunch of guys who you can’t do without!!!!!!!

  4. Walt says:

    NHL

    “Twenty-four-year-old Jacob Trouba is a restricted free agent, and he’s a good one, but also has a hard time staying healthy, playing more than 65 games once in five NHL seasons. He also played a career-low 21:54 per game last season, but was effective and still seems on the cusp of busting out.”

    Interesting fact as per an article on TSN.ca dealing with what the Jets will do this off season. I like Jake, but had no idea he gets hurt this much. Can a team over pay for his services??? Let’s hope we don’t!!!!!!!

    • James1090 says:

      That’s definitely a risk with Trouba, but he’s a very good defenseman. You are right he is going to expensive to acquire in a trade.

      • Walt says:

        Let’s see what happens at the draft, maybe another right d-man can be acquired by the trade route, or draft. To be honest with you James, I like the stable of kids we already have in Lindgren, Hajak, and Day in particular. We really have to give credit to JG for making a liability into a strong area in the system. Our defense has been less than our strong suit over the last three years!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait for next Friday night’s draft……………………….

        • James1090 says:

          Lindgern and Hajek look like good prospects. I’m not really sure about Day yet. Yes I’m looking forward to the draft as well and free agency.

    • Richter1994 says:

      I disagree bro. If we have a chance to get a guy like that with a reasonable trade cost and a decent contract then we have to do it.

      Problem is, as I have said a number of times, is that there will be a lot of teams bidding to get him in trade so it will be trade cost prohibitive, IMO.

      So I guess what I am saying is, NO WORRIES!! lol

      • Walt says:

        Tony

        I didn’t say I’m against trading for Jake, but I don’t want to over pay for the man!!!!!!!!!!

        He is a very talented guy, as long as it doesn’t cost us the store………

    • Reenavipul says:

      If the Rangers had a surplus of prospects in the pipeline, it’s worth considering.

      They don’t.

  5. Creature Feature says:

    Goalies in many sports exhibit the same psyche and properties. Not easy being the easy one to blame for a point for the opposition. We are truly lucky to have Hank. If we had a more solid and mobile backline, he would be considered even better.

    One minute, one period, one game at a time.

  6. Leatherneck says:

    Goalies are important but time after time it has been demonstrated the Goalie will seldom be the reason you will win the Cup. Center is the biggest factor, then D and then the goalie.

    Now I am not saying a career AHL Goalie will also win you a Cup if you are deep on skaters.

    Goalies this and that in this post, but let’s get real here…how about the skaters who go out of their way to block shots with far less protection? Hockey players are a different breed, it’s not just goalies.

    Lastly Mr GQ gave us a great run but it’s time to move on for the good of both the player and the club. His window has closed with the Rangers when it comes to winning the Cup. If we go about this the right way we are 3 years away from contention. This and next draft stockpile prospects, identify the core and gain experience to where in 3 years people will say….The Rangers are serious Cup contenders with the Rangers actually winning the Cup not just once but 2 or 3 in 10 years.

    • Richter1994 says:

      I will repeat what I said at the beginning of the playoffs and I am paraphrasing: Nashville’s and Winnipeg’s chances are totally dependent upon their respective goalie’s play, as both teams have everything else in place.

      And the general response to this was, “but, but, but, they both have Vezina candidate goalies.”

      MY response to that was, “who cares?” I bet they fall flat on their faces in the playoffs.

      Enough said.

      So with those 2 teams having the best forward groups in the league AND the best D groups in the league, both did not make the conference finals. You wanna tell me that Fleury did not carry Vegas to the SCF until he finally buckled at the end?

      • Leatherneck says:

        Richter 1994

        Watching Vegas as I live in Vegas and grew my playoff beard for the 1st time ever for a team other than the Rangers, as much as Fleury was instrumental in their run, so was Cody Eakin. He was sensational as well.
        Tom Wilson was a key to the Vegas disappearance not Holtby

        Goalie is important but not the key element

        • Richter1994 says:

          But can we agree that while goalies may not be able to win Cups by themselves, that they can certainly lose Cups for teams?

          I think that the Preds and Jets, 2 teams that are loaded from top to bottom outside of their goalies, prove that.

          • Leatherneck says:

            !00%…I agree

            my whole point is if you put your eggs in the Goalie basket to win a Cup, you’ll be disappointed.

            Important position? Yes nut you can win a cup with an above average goalie just as you can with an elite goalie. You will not win the Cup without center depth

            • Richter1994 says:

              “my whole point is if you put your eggs in the Goalie basket to win a Cup, you’ll be disappointed.”

              I know where you’re going with that bro, lol.

              But Travis Yost did a story, I think it was in 2017, that should the % of cap hit a team should have based on forwards, defensemen, and goalies. And guess what? The Rangers were right in line with the rest of the league as far as the % of cap hit relating to the team’s goalie tandem. 🙂

            • tanto says:

              You put your eggs in as many baskets as possible … for the first time in a long while we’re not up against the cap, so why worry about the eggs in Hank’s basket?

              Plus … and I know I’ll take flak for this, but I would rather root for a classy organization that shows some loyalty to the truly great players that reflect that loyalty back — and not just loyalty to an organization, but to a whole City … than to trade them away the first time it seems convenient. Sure, it may mean a couple of less assets, but there are intangibles and principles to worth adhering to.

              I’ve had my issues with Hank in the past but I still think he’s a positive, he’s a solution and not the problem. I say focus on the problems.

              • Ray says:

                I also see loyalty to McDonagh, loyalty to Zuccarello (who took less to resign) as an issue.

                The Rangers won’t dispose of Lundqvist. He has declined to be traded, would not attract much anyway, and the front office would not dare buy him out at this point. End of story.

                Is he part of the solution or part of the problem? I don’t think we actually know. There are two issues – goalie play and team chemistry. On goalie play, he is a keeper. Over the last two years, his numbers are average and you don’t just toss aside an average goalie without a backup plan. With lots of other needs, Georgiev emerging and Shestyorkin on the horizon, you do not want to expend assets on a new goalie. And without a new goalie, you only have Georgiev and Hank. While Georgiev was very good the last two months of the season, as Justin’s post explains clearly, two months is not a career.

                As for team chemistry, I just don’t know. The organization can’t help but give Hank special treatment. Certainly he has been known to express displeasure with his teammates. The players will say they like him; but they can hardly say otherwise. He could be a cancer in the clubhouse or he could be a true inspiration.

              • tanto says:

                Ray, what would you say about Messier then? Always saying happy shiny things about your teammates isn’t real leadership — besides, he’s a goalie — they’re all a little screwy. Bottom line though and I bet most every Ranger would agree, he’s been the cornerstone of this team for 12 years. No, he’s not perfect but every player to a man and every coach has always said, no one works harder than Hank. That’s an example you want in the dressing room and on the ice.

                Re: how he’s been average the last 2 years … chicken or the egg. Is it the team overall that has declined over the last 2 years or is it Hank? It’s pretty rare to say the team has ever carried Hank, but it isn’t rare to say Hank has carried this team — and this year was actually a pretty good example of that. When this team gave us false hope in November, December and part of January it was Hank giving us that hope.

                In any event, I don’t want to come off like an apologist for the King — he’s irked me at times over the years … but admittedly some of that is due in part to the high standard he set. When I weigh everything out his balance sheet is very much in the black.

                It’s inevitable that a change is coming and the torch will be passed, but there’s got to be someone to pass that torch to …

              • Ray says:

                I can’t speak too much on the locker room. However, it does seem (to all of us I think) that there is a locker room problem. I could see how Hank could be irksome, but I don’t know. Yes, he works hard, but as Justin’s post makes clear, dedication doesn’t guarantee success.

                My average the last two years is simply based on save percentage. While it is easier to have a higher save percentage on some teams than others, the success of Talbot, Raanta, Georgiev indicates to me that being a Ranger is not a minus.

                Theree is no doubt that Hank had a bad year in 2016-2017 and there is also no doubt that he was inconsistent this year. He started slow, had a great three month hot streak, and a poor finish. It is hard to add up such a year.

                I strongly believe that Hank’s numbers decline are not the result of defensive play, but rather the result of his playing mentality. Now teammate failures can play into that.

      • Ray says:

        This is the weakest Vezina field I can recall. The two best goalies this year were Raanta and Fleury, neither of which played 50 games due to injury and so were not unreasonably excluded. By the numbers, Rinne and Hellebuyck were the best of the rest (Vasilevskiy was just a poor choice), but it is harder to figure out why. Historically, Rinne has been a good goalie more because of his offensive than defensive contributions and what I saw of Hellebuyck in the postseason impressed me not at all.

        I think you underestimate the determined play of the Vegas skaters, but I do agree with you that Fleury was not the same goalie in the Finals. Still, if Neal does not miss that open net, the series may have gone differently.

  7. Ray says:

    Excellent article Justin. It greatly addresses the issue of why it is hard for skaters to understand goalies. Of course, what it cries out for is why it is hard for goalies to understand skaters [not your territory of course].

    One thing it does make clear is that there is more to tending than just mechanics. A goalie with perfect mechanics who can’t manage his emotions simply won’t make it and you cannot evaluate a tender simply by looking at him.

    Before my last paragraphs, a quick remark. When Greg Maddux pitched and a teammate made an error, he bore down hard. He did not want his teammate to feel responsible for a run because he was concerned with his teammate’s mindset.

    Which brings me to Lundqvist. As your post makes clear, he can make a million highlight reel saves and still be a crap goalie (he isn’t) because of attitude problems. But consider the AV era, the last five years. Cumulatively, Hank is 15th in GSAA over that period, toward the bottom of goalies who have kept their job throughout the period. In save percentage and GAA, he has consistently underperformed his backup. People bring up high danger chances, BUT consider:

    If I told you that there were many high danger chances with McDonagh-Girardi-Lundqvist on the ice and relatively few with McDonagh-Stralman-Lundqvist, what would you say? You’d likely focus on Girardi. Now if I told you there were many high danger chances with McDonagh-Girardi-Lundqvist on the ice and comparatively few with McDonagh-Girardi-Raanta, what would people say? Again they would blame Girardi.

    Here is something that should not be subject to debate. While Lundqvist was undeniably brilliant per-AV, over the last five years traditional goalie metrics show a tender not much above average. Advanced metrics assert that the explanation is poor defense, that he has faced a ton of high danger shots. Yet those same advanced metrics do not detect this poor defense when Hank is not on the ice.

    Luck can explain anything of course, but it is an easy answer. Just as a defense can and does affect the way a tender plays, so can a goalie affect a team’s defense. And as the Ranger defense tends to suck when Hank is on the ice, one should at least wonder why that is. Now these are just questions, shots in the dark. Does he make his teammates uncomfortable? Does he require positioning that makes them less effective? Does his handling of the puck give them just one more thing to worry about? And there are probably many more questions.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Or concepts of D playing the front for Hank while for others they played the post.

      • Ray says:

        That was my “require positioning that makes them less effective”.

        This fits into Justin’s theme. To be successful, goalies need to have their head on straight. Maybe Hank needed fronting to keep his head on straight – but it seems clear that the Ranger defense was much better if they played the post. And the upshot is that the Rangers were better without Hank than with him.

        It is possible that Vigneault was just wrong. It is possible that he developed a defensive structure that worked very well with post play, but not with fronting. Then he fronted anyway with Hank in net. And maybe he should have started with fronting and developed a defensive structure that was optimized with fronting.

  8. Richter1994 says:

    Galchenyuk for Domi, the first trade shoe to drop.

    AZ looking for NHL players to win now. This trade makes a lot of sense for AZ but it will be interesting to see how Galchenyuk meshes with Coach Tocchet, because it’s widely said that Galchenyuk is a very soft player and Tocchet was not.

    Chaycha, the AZ GM quietly doing a really good job there. That’s why, look for him to get an NHL vet winger to play with these centers he’s put together, like Zuc. The 5th pick definitely in play here.

    Lots of draft buzz that players like Kot-whatever, Veleno, Hayton, and Kravtsov are moving up the draft boards. If they start to creep into the top 10, then maybe someone unexpectedly falls to #9 (Rangers).

    Lots of possibilities!!

    • Reenavipul says:

      Not just about looking to win now, also about getting to cap floor with actual players instead of LTIR cases.

      Domi as a player is his dad with better opportunities. I doubt he surpasses his rookie year where he got 1st line minutes on a lousy team. If he’s middle 6, the current trend will continue.

      • Richter1994 says:

        OEL extension, Harjlesson (spelling? lol) deal coming, they will have no problem getting to the floor.

        Zuc and the #9 to AZ for their #5 is a very good possibility if Tkachuk is there at #5. The Rangers (and Quinn) want him bad. But I think that Brady might go #4 TO THE Sens.

        The Domi deal was a steal for AZ. That young GM is very smart and is doing a great job.

        • Reenavipul says:

          They’ll have to add another $3-5mm to get to the projected range of the floor, neither player extension mentioned would count for another season.

          Zuccarello would make a ton of sense as it gets them close to the floor(or just over it), would improve the lineup and would be off the books at the end of the season when those D extensions(and Chycrun’s 2nd deal) kick in.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Sign JVR or Neal, problem solved.

            • Reenavipul says:

              They’d never sign either one of them.

              Until they get a new building, they will be as close to the floor as they can be while trying to win. When the kids go off their ELCs they’ll get locked in to yr28 or they’ll get moved like Domi who wanted a bridge deal.

              Chayka might be a stats guy, but he has the CBA environment nailed down like a boss lawyer.

              • Richter1994 says:

                Whatever the case will be, that GM has a plan and will figure it out. The guy appears to be brilliant, in comparison to the other dumb GMs in the NHL.

                With Gorton finally in control of his own destiny, we will finally see what we have in him.

                If they make the great pains to trade up to the 5th pick, only to draft Tkachuk over Wahlstrom, then I will not feel too warm and fuzzy. But if Tkachuk falls to #9 and they draft him there, then I will not have a problem with it.

                Unless someone falls to #9, I predict the Rangers will draft Bouchard. But if one of the forwards fall, one of Kot-whatever, Wahlstrom, or Tkachuk, I think that Rangers will take that player at #9.

  9. Walt says:

    Galchenyuk traded to Coyotes by Canadiens for Domi

    Just saw this a few minutes ago, interesting move on both parts. I suspect that Montreal got the better part of this deal!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Richter1994 says:

    For all the Hank doubters, please go to Blueshirt Banter to read a “report card” on Henrik.

    All numbers 5 on 5 were very good.

    • Ray says:

      Do you know why they give Hank a +11. x GSAA and hockeyreference gives him +4.x?

      .

      • Richter1994 says:

        To be honest, I do not know this stuff that well. I read the article and the conclusion was that 5 on 5 Henrik did well.

        I know the perception is that Hank did not play well last year, but the mere increase in shots faced would amount to more goals allowed in of itself.

        • Ray says:

          Using hockeyreference numbers
          2016-17 GAA 2.74 Save % .910 GSAA -5.21
          2017-18 GAA 2.98 Save % .915 GSAA 4.70

          I don’t think anyone disputes the notion that 2017-18 was a rebound from the worst year in Hank’s career. The rise in the GAA is indeed just a reflection of the increase in shot quantity. Georgiev’s GAA was 3.15 because he really faced a ton of shots. My inclination is to just ignore GAA this year.

          • Richter1994 says:

            “My inclination is to just ignore GAA this year.”

            Absolutely Raymond. I think that I saw that Henrik faced 40+ SOG in a game 12 times last year, by far and away the most in any single season.