Jeremy Roenick just inspired me to open up Microsoft Word and write this article. I’ve had enough of him and what’s been being spewed forth from his mouth. I’ve had enough of people spewing the same nonsense.
Most of NBCSport’s NHL commentators have annoying tendencies. Whether it’s Pierre McGuire being creepy or Mike Milbury constantly saying something embarrassingly stupid, it’s starting to get frustrating to watch. And I just noticed one of Jeremy Roenick’s annoying tendencies while listening to him on the pre-game show for the Rangers/Capitals game about to start.
According to Roenick, just about every goal that a goalie gives up is soft. “That goal can’t happen” or “he really needs to make that save.” Braden Holtby was his target tonight for only making 11 saves on 14 shots.* They showed the first goal given up to Artem Anisimov. He got blamed for it. They showed the second goal to Kreider. Blamed again. And finally, they showed the goal to Brad Richards. It was considered a weak five-hole goal.
Now, would I have liked to have seen Holtby make some of those saves? Of course! But let’s be realistic with these goals for a second. On Anisimov’s goal, he came out from behind the net mostly uncontested on a wraparound. Holtby swung his stick out for a poke check and instead of knocking the puck out of harm’s way, he deflected it under his arm. That’s bad luck if you ask me. It’s not like Anisimov snuck it under his pad or he left the short side open. Kreider’s goal was a ridiculous, perfectly placed shot. I’ve seen plenty of much weaker goals in my life. On the Richards goal, it was completely inexcusable for the Capitals to allow the Rangers’ best player to walk right to the net that way. Between Holtby needing to respect the pass and Richards being a premiere offensive player, that situation had goal written all over it.
And it hasn’t been just Holtby taking unfair criticism. Ilya Bryzgalov has taken a lot of heat for his play in the Flyers’ win against the Devils yesterday. Yes, the second and third goals weren’t unstoppable, but acting like he very nearly blew the game for the Flyers is a bit unfair considering he was the only player on the Flyers who showed up during the first period. If he wasn’t brilliant for the first 20 minutes of the game, there’s no way the score was only 1-0 after the first period. Patrick Elias had a marvelous point blank shot about 30 seconds into the game. Bryz stoned him. He stopped 14 of 15 shots in that first period. So while you talk about the two goals he gave up later in the game, why not be fair and talk about his first period as well?
Usually the winning goalie is put on the pedestal and the losing goalie scrutinized and blamed. Of course despite winning the game, Bryzgalov took more heat than Martin Brodeur. Brodeur didn’t play poorly, but he definitely deserves some criticism for his puckhandling, which led directly to James van Riemdyk’s goal. He also put his team in some bad spots with poor decisions at other points as well.
I’m not trying to make it seem like the goalie is what wins and loses games. Obviously, if your goalie is giving up softy after softy, you’re likely not going to win (how often is this actually the case though). Regardless of how many people refuse to acknowledge it, defense in hockey is a team effort. I can’t believe I haven’t gone postal yet given the number of times I’ve read or heard “The most important thing by far in the playoffs is a goalie.” Right…because Chris Osgood was the reason for all of the Cups for Detroit, not the ridiculous team in front of him. As good as Martin Brodeur was, the defenses in front of him were incredibly stacked. I’m not sure you can name many teams that have won the Cup that weren’t just great teams.
*Now of course when a team peppers a goalie with 35 shots and he only gives up 1 goal, people love to say that the goalie likes seeing so many shots and that his opponent is doing him a favor.