Jimmy Howard: NHL's most consistent goalie?

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Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Hockey goalies often are stereotyped as being, um, neurotic but Hockey or Die’s Jonathan Willis put together an interesting list of this season’s five most consistent goalies in the NHL and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard came out on top.

Of course, before we go further, it’s probably relevant to discuss exactly what is meant by “consistency.” Willis points to a great Battle of Alberta post that focuses on the fact that a lot of times when a sports writer states that “(blank player/team) needs to become more consistent” the writer really wants to say that they needs to be better. 

When it comes down to it, being consistent and being great – while not mutually exclusive – can often be wildly different expectations. A great goalie might have some serious peaks and valleys, then again, an average goalie can be quite valuable if his performance is steady.

The funny thing about this list (being that it’s about consistency) is that it seems like a collage of the year’s most surprising goalies. Craig Anderson hasn’t just been outstanding this season, he’s been reliably outstanding. After bouncing back and forth from Detroit’s farm system, Howard has been a rock for the Red Wings. Tuukka Rask is producing similar results in Boston.
The two most interesting names are the last ones on the list: Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Unlike the top three, Price and Quick do not have elite-level save percentages, yet they’re both in considerably different situations. Price came into the league with Chosen One type pressure and to the naked eye seems like a disappointment. On the other hand, Quick isn’t even the most renowned goalie named Jonathan in the Kings system, yet he’s sporting a Brodeurian workload.
Price is in a “1A, 1B” situation (at best) in Montreal because of the often great goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, but his numbers have been comparable to Quick’s this season. The difference is that Quick is the most stable, mature goalie the Kings have now (though that could change later with the maturation of their other prospects). Is Quick a demonstrably great goalie? No, but there could be legitimate value in knowing what you’re going to get from a goalie.
Now, if Willis can find a team that has the best cross-section between goalie consistency and  shots allowed, then he’ll really be on to something.

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    Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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    The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

    Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

    Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

    A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

    Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

    He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

    Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

    Spicy stuff.

    For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

    For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

    Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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    Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

    OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

    It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

    Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

    In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

    Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

    That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

    Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

    For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

    Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

    graphic via NHL
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    It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

    The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

    “It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

    The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

    Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

    Alrighty then.

    Click here for more details.

     

    Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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    Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

    Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

    Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

    We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.