GDT: Predators @ Red Wings l 03/14/04 l 6CT/7ET l ESPN2
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03-16-2004, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Miami, FL
Originally Posted by
I'd venture to say some of our defensive mistakes are certainly correctable. The defensemen and forwards are capable of not getting caught up late in the game when we're holding a one-goal lead (Chicago game). Our defenseman are capable of not shoting the puck in high-risk areas when we're trying to hold a lead, which results in a block shot and odd-man break the other way (Calgary game). Our defenseman and forwards are capable not trying to act like goaltender when there is scramble in front of the net (Boston game, Calgary Game, and nearly every game of the year). Stay with the man and keep him tied up and out of the play.
But of course we can tell Vokoun to be better mentally focused. That's easily correctable. "Play with more mental focus, Tomas." Those are simple instructions that have no apparent meaning.
I can guarantee you that Vokoun enters the game with every desire to win. Of course he has every desire to correct a goal "that he should've had." But sometimes it's just the way the puck bounces and the momentuem you have as a goaltender. Because of that, goaltenders go really hot, somewhat hot, average, cold, and colder. This goes for every goaltender in the league. But everyone here just expects Vokon to be really hot all the time. Of couse, he shares the blame of a loss, just like everyone on the team should. But the poeple just find it easier to put nearly everything on the goaltenders shoulders.
Blaming Vokoun is just the easiest thing to do. We do it and the the media does it. They say the HE is the one that must take the team to the playoffs. What about the other 19 players on the ice? Are they capable of evelating their game? Yes, they are. In fact, they are more capable of elevating their game. Becuase they can actually do something objectively about elevating their game. The can play with more emotion, skate harder, play smarter, and quit doing high-risk things when they're trying to hold the lead. Vokoun, on the other hand, can only be "more prepared mentally." The saying with no apparent meaning.
Vokoun gets the blame/credit, and deservedly so, because he is the only player who you can point to and say 'if he plays great, our chances of winning goes through the roof'. It's the life of a goaltender. You say that we overestimate Vokoun's role in all of this. I say you overestimate our defenseman and forwards role in all of this. Sure it has a lot to do with them. But the bottom line is, we don't have a ton of talent/experience on our backline. We do have a stellar goalie (at times). If you start asking untalented players (like Allison) to play mistake free hockey, you get more mistakes and a worthless player. For the same reason you can't tell a goalie to be more mentally prepared, you can't tell Bombardir to be stronger on his skates. Stopping pucks is a joint effort.
You can ask our forwards to skate hard; you can ask our defenseman to play smart; you can ask your goaltender to be better prepared mentally, but it won't get you much. If you can ask the first, and you can ask the second, why can't you ask the third? Defenseman playing smart is the same as a goalie playing smart (lower the risk, position yourself, don't be overzealous). It may take more mental effort, but it's certainly doable.
The one thing you have to come back to is stats. Vokoun just simply isn't performing up to last seasons standards. You can say the defense was better last year, but that is bogus. I'd love to see an independant analysis of the goals Vokoun has allowed this season and last and grade the difficulty level of each goal. For whatever reason, be it our poor D play or our poor forwards, Vokoun isn't stealing games like he was last year. He is allowing more 'soft goals'. Vokoun cannot play harder, you are right about that. But he can play smarter (positionally, don't over-commit, don't venture too far from the net, don't be an idiot and freeze the puck behind the goal line). That's all I ask. He's not going to make all the saves. I know this. The perfect shot will beat any goaltender from any era at any time from anywhere within 20-25 feet (and a respectable angle), almost without expection (goalie can get lucky and guess right). I know some of those goals (the ones against Calgary come to mind) are once in a month goals. You just don't dive forwards and deflect the puck blocker side high or off balanced, back hand it just under the cross bar. But there are other goals out there that can be saved. I want all the saveable shots saved. But you have to reach for the stars to acheive what you want to acheive. At the end of the day, if he stops all but 1 of the saveable shots every game, I'll be happy.
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