Rethinking the Butterfly

Rask done in Beantown?; Dreger's DeAngelo scoop; Laine's end-to-end goal; Panthers tied at the top of the Central

I have nothing against goaltenders.

Some of my best friends were such Hall of Famers as Gump Worsley, Charlie  Rayner, Glenn Hall and, more recently Battlin' Bill Smith.

I love goaltenders. Why even my younger son, Simon, was a puck-stopper before he took sick at Northwood Academy.

But I'm not crazy about goaltending coaches nor that so-called "School" of netminding that grew out of Patrick Roy's emergence as a Montreal Canadiens star. 

Specifically, I'm referring to this nutsy trend where goalies drop to their knees at the very drop of the puck.  And in so doing cause damage to their bodies and their teams because it is dumb and dumber goaltending. 

The slang word for this style is "Butterfly" and its dumb -- like the title -- for a pure and simple reason:

When a goalie is rooted to his knees he automatically allows a shooter almost an entire upper half of the net to exploit. And, brother, do the the Matthews, Crosbys and McDavids love that.

All you have to do is check the replay videos of goals scored and you can understand the flaws of the "Butterfly." 

So, why haven't goalie coaches wisened up?

The problem begins with rudimentary goalie school. It's easy to teach a kid to go down to his knees and use his glove to nab high shots.

The problem is that kid goalies can get away with such a down-to-the-knees maneuver because young shooters lack both the strength and ability to "go high."

Once the goalie is stuck with the "Butterfly," he takes it with him up the ladder to the NHL where the flawed technique is perpetuated and high-- now called "Toy Department" -- shots routinely hit the twine.

But there's a further issue -- injuries. 

My contention is that the endless rash of goalie injuries can be attributed to the "butterfly" and the fact that it forces an individual's body into contortions that lead to groin pulls and assorted other ice wounds.

Ironically, the only goalie to play 502 consecutive NHL games without a mask was Glenn Hall. I say "ironically" because Mister Goalie was the one who introduced the "inverted V" style now called "Butterfly."

The difference being that Hall only did it occasionally and succeeded because he mostly relied on the stand-up style.

If there's a good side to the quasi-morbid lesson it's the more goalies employ the "Butterfly," the more goalies get hurt. And the more goalies get hurt, the more jobs there are for the back-ups!

(P.S. Objections from goalie coaches such as Dave Starman are welcome!)


THE JIVE: Opinion among the Bruins general staff is swaying away from the Finnish vet who walked out on his team in the playoffs to Alaska's own Jeremy Swayman. I hear that despite all the cheery homilies about voices by the Beantowners in support of Rask's playoff walkaway, that the organization was fit to be tied. Swayman supposedly is the Hub's goalie-of-the-future if not now. The back-up's backup will be Czech Dan Vladar -- unless the club wants to gamble on another year for aging Jaro Halak. The  understatement on Causeway Street is that there's uncertainty about goaltending's long-term future.


THE JIVE: The "Scoop" is a wonderful journalistic expression for getting a "beat" on a news story. Elliotte Friedman does it so well for Sportsnet but his equal on TSN is "insider" Darren Dreger. A perfect example of Dreger's excellence is his revelation that defenseman Tony DeAngelo rejected the Rangers offer to mutually terminate his contract. Dreger added that DeAngelo will be bought out of his contract this summer. One of Dreger's postscript's on the story caught my eye; that the Canadiens were "very interested" in signing Tony D. (Which means that the D-man may well be wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge next season.


THE JIVE: In an early 1980's playoff against the Rangers, Islanders forward Bob Bourne pulled off the ultimate coast-to-coast skate leading to a goal. It remains one of the all-time accomplishments of that genre.

When it comes to an up-to-date version check out the one Patrick Laine pulled off in the Columbus vs. Chicago game. It was as amazing in its execution as Bourne's except for one thing. Bob did his during the playoffs and went on to win one of his four Stanley Cups. (Too bad Patrick won't get a chance to duplicate it in the playoffs this spring.)


THE JIVE: Red Deer, Alberta is famous for many things including the birthplace of the above-mentioned '"insider" Darren Dreger. The prairie city also is renowned for its Junior hockey team, the Red Deer Rebels. Just about a ton of Sutter family members played for Red Deer including Islanders Cup-winners, the brothers Duane and Brent. As it happened, Brent went on to own the franchise and most recently was the coach. But, guess what? The owner fired the coach. Brent stepped himself down, candidly declaring that the players "need to hear another voice." (That's a better story than Man Bites Dog!) 


THE JIVE: My choice is the Flyers and for good reason. Before the campaign's opening face-off critics had grand expectations. It was expected that by mid April, Philly would be among the elite. The Hockey News rated the Broad (No Longer Bullies) Streeters fifth best out of thirty-one. G.m. Chuck Fletcher thought he had rounded out his defense by signing free agent Erik Gutafsson and goaltending was thought to be solid with Carter Hart and Brian Elliott. Instead we have a team that's 19-17-6 after a 6-1 trouncing last night in Washington. It was Philadelphia's fourth loss in the last five games. Goaltending has failed; the defense never recovered from Matt Niskanen's retirement and the once vaunted forward core paced by Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konechy has been reduced to tepid. (Miracles happen, but for Philly to finish in a playoff berth would qualify as beyond miraculous.)


THE JIVE: The Kudo Collection for Captain Connor has reached the saturation -- okay, surplus -- level. By now we all know he's a "generational player" although not in the Gretzky Group. But there is a reason that the Oilers will make the playoffs this season and it's not all about McDavid. My very astute aide de camp, Gus Vic, notes the following: "When Gretzky was in the conversation, sidekick Jari Kurri was usually not far behind. Why not to the same extent for Leon Draisaitl? When playing on the same line or on the power play, he's an exceptional compliment to McDavid and also is brilliant as a solo act. He owns a terrific one-timer, overall skill and hockey sense." All true; but will it be enough to get the Oilers past the first round? Not if they play the Leafs! (Pardon the personal note but 'way back when, my hockey-wise son, Simon, was touting this guy Draisaitl to me before anyone else could spell his name!)

HEADLINE: Florida defeats Dallas in OT to pull into a first place tie in points in the Central Division

THE JIVE: The Cats’ Frank Vatrano flies under the radar with the big names in Florida but has earned the title “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for big goals this season.  Last night’s OT marker against Anton Khudobin was “Frank the Tank’s” third out of seven OT wins for Florida. Of his 14 markers on the year eleven have been in the third period or OT and five have been game winners.

Post-game coach Joel Quenneville said, “All timing. Sometimes you get lucky but he does have the flair for the big (goals). He does make some nice shots. We want to shoot a lot and Frankie’s got a great shot. He’s moved up on the power play unit and he’s getting more of an opportunity to lay and use that weapon of his.”

Vatrano low-keyed his clutch plays this year. “It’s nice to be put in some of those opportunities sometimes. It’s just the luck of the draw with me – putting them in at the right times right now.”


1. SWEET MUSIC IN NASHVILLE: How about those Preds who've won 13 of their last 16 games. That includes the 7-2 demolition of Tampa Bay last night. It's about time coach John Hynes got some love for his club's terrific turnabout.

2. MANTHA MAKES GOOD. "More Moe" they're chanting in Washington as the mammoth Wings-Caps deal is starting off well for Peter Laviolette's sextet. Double M's debut included a goal and an assist in last night's 6-1 toppling of Philly.

3. HALL HELD SCORELESS: The Bruins are hoping he turns into a Terrific Taylor but in his Bruins debut last night Hall went scoreless. No big deal; it's only one game and besides the Beantowners beat Buffalo, 3-2, in a Shootout.

4. NICE GENERAL MANAGERS: It's nice of Toronto's Kyle Dubas to assure injured top goalie Fred Andersen that the "door is open" for a comeback. Meanwhile sweet words from Buffalo's boss Kevyn Adams for interim coach Don Granato. "He's in the mix," promises Adams when the Sabres choose their next bench boss.


How many goals did Wayne Gretzky score in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final vs. the Islanders

(Answer Below.)


Gordie Howe describing Bobby Hull's power:

"Bobby is so strong, he doesn't call the cattle in. He carries them in!"


Gretzky was totally blanked by Isles goalie Bill Smith .