Sunday, November 23, 2008

Endangered Goaltenders

Half a year removed from the Competition Committee's decision to nip and tuck goaltending equipment, three of the League's most marketable netminders are sitting out with injuries.

In Martin Brodeur's case, it would be hard to argue that the loss of a couple inches of girth could be attributed to to a tear in his bicep tendon. In fact, it isn't certain that the new rules given to goaltending equipment had any affect on him as he is rather known for sporting some of the smallest padding in the NHL these days. It is more likely that father time caught up with the New Jersey Devils netminder after compiling almost 23,000 saves over the course of his NHL career. Something had to give, leading to the first lengthy layoff he has ever had to face.

In the cases of Evgeny Nabokov and now, Roberto Luongo, we can't be as sure. And it isn't to suggest that the barrier between man and puck is resulting in knee and groin injuries, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the new size and weight restrictions are providing a challenge to those who perform regular acrobatics behind them. Would it be crazy to suggest that even the slightest of changes and unfamiliarity in goaltending equipment could have a dramatic effect on the health of it's players this early on?

The rise in goaltending injuries could be attributed to a physical factor. Going post to post in a lateral move that we happen to see many times throughout the course of a game. Much like how players slowly adapted to wearing facial visors which they claimed had an affect on their on-ice vision, the minor changes made to the armor a goaltender is suited with, could potentially change the style of his movement on the ice. Athletes these days are such fine-tuned machines that even the slightest of changes could factor in on their health. Or perhaps this is nothing more than a mental effect on our netminders. Knowing full well that the puck has a few inches more on either side of them to squeeze past and into the net, could psychologically force the goalltender to extend himself that much more in the efforts of a save.

It has been a rather long while since we have seen this type of spike in the numbers involving injured netminders. Having gone through just a quarter of the season we have already seen Brodeur, Nabokov, Luongo, Smith, Legace, Dipietro, LeClaire, Ellis, Mason, Fleury and Lehtonen sidelined due to injury. And while it could simply be a reflection of some unfortunate coincidence, the NHL should choose to be very proactive and not procrastinate in researching this.

For all the time and thought that has been put forth by General Managers around the League, on how to raise goal scoring in the NHL, it was doubtful that the ultimate plan was to get more playing time for Kevin Weekes and Curtis Sanford.


Wild Patty Pie said...

But didn't Legace trip on a carpet to injure himself? ;)

damned said...

Which was pure gold!

Anna Cluxton said...

Wait - was Palin out again? They really need to keep her in Alaska ;).