Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Pretty Butterflies

We won a hard fought 2-1 game last night in our local men's league.  I'm playing net for the first time in 15 years and I'm having trouble identifying with the other goalies in the league.

There are a number of capable goalies, but they all look the same, like rows of cyborgs, all repeating the same motion over and over.  They play their angles (within reason, never beyond the edge of the blue ice) and butterfly, butterfly, butterfly

I know this is the magic save, and I know it's all goalies seem to work on nowadays, but to the exclusion of everything else?  It's a percentage save, you have covered the bottom of the net while still being upright enough to stop the odd high shot.

If someone sweeps across the net, these little Butterflies slide across in a butterfly.  If there is a shot in traffic, they don't even move their heads to try and see the shot, they just butterfly.  Playing the game like this, you may as well be a statistician.  Call me old school, but I'd rather move with the game, and not cripple myself in the process.

Repeated butterflying puts a great deal of stress on the knee, and many older butterfly goalies have on-going knee problems because they've forced their legs into this unnatural position over and over again for years.  Being a dinosaur from the time before butterfly, I don't care for the fashion, or the injuries.

Last night in the game I poke checked (gasp, I was out of the blue ice in the crease at the time too!), butterfliers don't poke check because their stick position is prescribed; their whole mindset is prescribed.

I like Potvin's stick blade down approach when there are a forest of legs in front of me, and being over six feet tall, I can still cover the top of the net, even when I'm low like that.  I stopped half a dozen in that position, including two toe saves because I could quickly stretch to a splits and cover the corner (not so easy for those butterflies out there - not that they'd move anyway, their position is prescribed).

I also came out and played the puck a lot, mostly because I want to feel like Mike Palmateer at least once per game, and spent very little time in the crease, especially on the many two on ones that occurred.  I'm a quick skater and I can cover passes well, even when out of the crease.  I seldom have to go down on those shots because there is no net to hit.  It's all in the angles.

When things got hectic, and they did several times, I filled the crease but responded to the play, Hasek style.  It might not be orthodox, or repetitive and calculating, but it was effective.

What got my nose up at the end was the kid (probably 20 years younger than I am with a face full of jewelry) in the other net was all about how I should get the horse shoe out of my ass.  By the end of the game I'd faced twice as many shots as he had, in a two-one win.  They didn't even get the one until the last three minutes of the game.  I'm not saying it was all skill, I'm not that good, but to say that 30+ saves were all luck is stretching the definition of luck.  His problem was that I didn't look like a goalie should, as wikipedia states, "making proper saves".

There were a couple of lucky incidents in the game, but they happened at both ends.  In one case I caught one in the chest and it squirted loose, but the ref had whistled it down already.  The same thing happened to him not ten minutes later, but he was butterflying at the time, so I guess it was skill in his case, not luck.