Was hockey better in the 80s?
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11-15-2012, 12:17 PM
Conn Smythe Winner
Join Date: Aug 2012
Originally Posted by
Goaltending as it exists today can be boiled down to the "butterfly" style. As with any other position, kids are "taught" how to play this style from the get go and as a result, many goalies stop the puck in a similar way.
The main thing is this: Butterfly goaltending is more efficient than a stand up/hybrid style because it's focused on the goalie having to play sound positionally, cut down on high percentage scoring areas, and exploit angles. It's also perhaps the only "style" of goaltending that can be taught (pros and cons abound) because a coach can instruct a goalie on how to best defend against each type of shot. You'd have considerably less success telling a kid to stay on their feet at all costs or to "just go in there and play like Hasek". The goaltending position stagnated (especially in the 80's) and coaches were forced to re-examine how the position was taught and developed.
Team philosophy has shifted to what I consider to be "prevent offense", where the mission is to get the puck in deep and grind down both defenseman. Trapping is back en vogue, and even then, teams who roll a 2-1-2 still don't send both guys in HARD like the Kings did in the post season this year. They still try to "manage" the other team in the neutral zone and create a turn over. The biggest thing is not a drop off in skill. Lundqvist, Quick, Rinne, Luongo....these are super skilled butterfly goalies with great anticipation and great gloves. Their lateral movement is some of the best in the business. But at no other point in time has shot blocking been such a priority league wide. When you have forwards who pressure the D at the point and will lay down to prevent the bomb from coming through, why not stand your ground? And vice versa, if your defense is collapsing on the puck carrier and there's a good chance he'll only have an option to shoot low and through a screen, why not drop down and cover the most vulnerable part of the net?
Time and space and seams in the D and holes in the goaltender....all that has dried up exponentially.
It's easy to get caught up in the dizzying goalie stats of the past years and attribute it all to bigger equipment, but there is an infinitely greater amount of shared sacrifice going on in hockey now. 4 lines are utilized and line matching is at an all time high (it seems like). Players are willing to get in front of shots and back check as hard as possible and grind the game out. Even with all this collapsing style of play, goaltenders are still *routinely* getting embarrassed by the best players in the game and will always have trouble stopping a puck they can't see. Team defense will inflate every goaltending statistic, but it's still apparent who the top goalies are and how their skill sets them apart. Equipment plays a significant role in mobility, but goaltending is much less personal flair and much more scientific in its implementation.
No one is saying the scoring drought is solely because of goalie equipment. What IS being said is it's a big part of it, along with "systems" where teams lay back in a shell, and a significant drop in penalty calls. ALL of those things play a part in killing of scoring across the board. Fixing just one of those things isn't sufficient: All three need to be fixed in order to bring scoring back.
Along with scoring what would be brought back is TALENT determining who wins the Cup from year to year rather than who has the hottest goaltender going into the playoffs.
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