Posted by: emmaharger | June 12, 2011

A brilliant idea: the backup goalies’ blog

I have a soft spot in my twisted little heart for goaltenders. I don’t know why; perhaps it’s just the uniqueness of the job they have to do. They are a team’s last line of defense. They get to wear lobster claws (what I call their catching mitts) and have special sticks. I love how each goalie customizes their special masks. There is so much symbolism in some of them. (Let’s take a look at the mask of  my favorite goalie, Ondrej Pavelec. I call it ‘goalieception’ because there is actually an old-school goalie on one side. There’s also a tribute to the dearly departed Atlanta Flames, two Thrashers logos, his number which is also his birthday and on the back there is a Czech flag and his last name written on a medieval-style flag.)

So of course I always want to learn more and more about goalies. I especially like the Bruins’ backup goaltender Tuukka Rask. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate Tim Thomas–the man is a beast in net and deserves all of the cheeseburgers (and the Vezina, but Krista and I are going to make NHL Awards predictions later, so stay tuned)–but Tuukka just interests me in different ways.

Okay, he’s attractive. So what, who cares?

In this playoffs run to date, Tuukka has played for exactly 0 minutes. This led me to create this macro:

Poor Tuukka. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

He’s made the best of “door duty,” as it were, but the league decided to do something brilliant and give him a sounding board to share his unique perspective on this series. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Behind the Rask. (Vancouver fans, Cory Schneider has his own blog too, Cory’s Story.)

As a journalist by trade, I always like to hear and read different perspectives on a story. Insider perspectives are a thrill to me. Obviously, I took to Behind the Rask like a duck to water. It is chock-full of excellent pull quotes, too.

“The Roberto Luongo comments have been all over the news today. I heard about it, but I didn’t see what he said. People can say whatever they want because it is a free world for everybody. They can express their opinion on things.”

It is a free world for everybody. They can express their opinions on things. Absolutely, Tuukka, absolutely. You basically just summarized the freedoms given to the press by the First Amendment!

“But, that’s what [Tim Thomas] does the best; he’s a battler, you know? He’s just trying to hold his ground. He’s good at it. He never gets upset. He’s a fighter, you know? It doesn’t upset him. He just goes about his business.”

You know?

This one’s a bit long, but it’s interesting to me because it’s about the toll that all these transcontinental flights and time zone jumps can take on players.

“Sometimes it is hard to get to sleep when you play in a game. It won’t be for me because I didn’t play, but there are guys that have that problem sometime. It’s obviously harder when you play in the game. Tomorrow most of the guys on the plane will probably try to stay awake because you want to go to bed early tomorrow. We have some guys who like to sleep and some guys who don’t. It’s a mix. Whenever we fly, I like to play cards to pass the time. We switch the games up a bit to keep it interesting.”

I have a feeling that Tuukka is a really fierce and competitive card player. The kind of guy who throws milk crates when he gets really ticked off is probably likely to flip tables if he’s losing at War or whatever.

“Our guys have been pretty good about giving me work. Our guys want to score and I chirp them a lot, so they really want to score more. That’s been the case the whole year. It’s a good battle out there, and that is what makes everybody better. I can get on everybody’s skin with my chirping. It changes up from time to time. Z[deno Chara]’s been a tough customer there. Sometimes, he really wants to blast that slap shot and it feels good when you save it and I’ll give him a little chirp there.”

Oh, Tuukka. Never stop being you. (Then again, watching Marc-Andre Fleury mercilessly chirping his teammates during practices on 24-7 Pens/Caps was hilarious too.)

“We spend a lot of time on the road during the year, and I just like to hang out with the guys. We’ll go to movies, just walk around downtown. We usually stay in pretty nice places and we’ll go to the restaurants and maybe a movie now and then — just trying to kill some time. Nothing crazy.”

This is another aspect of hockey I’ve wondered about–what they do when they’re on the road. (Tuukka planned on this trip to see The Hangover 2.) Again, I’ve seen some of it on 24-7, but more input is always interesting.

Finally, this sweet little nugget after the Game 1 loss:

“I talked to Timmy a little after the game. I just told him, “Good job.” Like I said, it was frustrating for him a little bit.”

Awwwwwwwwwww.

This should become a regular thing during the season: input from whomever the backup goaltender is that night. I would enjoy it quite a lot.


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