Discussing the need for goalie coaches in the post-lockout years

goaliecoaches.jpgAs much as the sport (and the position) has evolved – just look at the way the equipment went from skimpy pads to netminders resembling “The Michelin Man” – some things never change. Even if their relative value within an NHL franchise and on the free agent market may ebb and flow, goalie performances still make or break just about every NHL team.

So it makes sense, then, to hire a bright and skillful goalie coach to get inside their often murky heads. NHL.com had a nice story about the rise of goalie coaches from just a few only a decade or two ago to an every team standard now. While the story emphasizes the importance of learning the intricacies of a position that is now much more challenging and technical thanks to the increased speed of the game, a good relationship between a goalie and his coach ultimately comes down to human factors like trust.

Goalie coaches have drawn comparison to quarterback coaches in football because they handle a small, specialized group of players — in the NHL, that’s usually just the two goaltenders carried by most teams. With such a close relationship, success boils down to a matter of trust between player and coach.

“There has to be trust,” Dunham said. “Trust in the goalie to trust his goalie coach. The goalie coach has to understand what the goalie is going through during the ups and the downs of a season. The goalie has to feel that the goalie coach understands where he is coming from and what he is trying to do.”

Francois Allaire, regarded as one of the best goalie coaches in the world, couldn’t agree more about the importance of trust in the goalie-coach relationship.

“Trust is important, just like in every relationship,” he told NHL.com. “The goalie has to trust the system you bring in practice and he has to trust it’s going to work in the game.”

(It’s great to see random goalie names from the 90s like Dunham’s pop up out of nowhere, isn’t it?)

The funny thing is that I was waiting through the first few paragraphs of this story thinking “Why hasn’t Francois Allaire been mentioned?” He seemed to have the Midas Touch with goalies as the guy for the Anaheim Ducks, churning out winners like J.S. Giguere, Ilya Bryzgalov and most recently Jonas Hiller.

That being said, Allaire could be the source of a “chicken or the egg” argument if the goalies on the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle this season. After all, Allaire spent his time in an organization that employed the likes of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Some might say that a goalie’s best friend is his coach, but I’d say that an even better ally comes in the form of a huge, gap-toothed defenseman who will make the opposition pay.

Nonetheless, sports require a much more academic approach than ever before, so it’s great to know that every NHL team invests in a goalie coach. Perhaps we’ll find more sophisticated ways of measuring their aptitude beyond wins and save percentages some day, too.

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    So it looks like Mike Ribeiro is a healthy scratch for the Predators

    Nashville Predators' Mike Ribeiro (63) gets off a pass as he lies on the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.

    Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.

    The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.

    Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.

    Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.

    It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.

    WATCH LIVE: Game 3 of Sharks – Predators, Stars – Blues

    Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) skates with the puck against St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) during the first period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.

    You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.

    Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Video: Jonathan Drouin shaken up by huge Thomas Hickey hit

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    Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.

    As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.

    (NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)

    The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.

    Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.

    2016 Foundation Player Award finalists: Giordano, Martin, Subban

    Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban walks away after taking with reporters during an end of season availability at the team training facility Monday, April 11, 2016 in Brossard, Quebec. None of the seven Canadian NHL teams was good enough this season to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, a dismal milestone in the home of modern hockey and the first time it has happened since the 1969-70 season. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

    The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”

    The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.