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The Dragon Wakes

I am again relegated to a woefully bad feed (really a radio broadcast) to watch the Flyers play the Islanders.

Quick notes about the game in general: Timonen scored the first goal of the game, and the first goal for the Flyers’ defense this season.  So that was a really big goal.  Carter just made it 2-0.  I can hear it but I only see still shots.  Right now I think it is frozen on Carter shooting.  I guess that is a nice shot to be stuck on, if it were not so blurry.

What about Bob? I am completely out of my depth here, but since I have not been able to dig up better informed opinions, and since my eyes work okay, I will try to tell what I see. Forgive my inadequate words.  I do not have the terminology to name what I see, or saw.

Quickness

His glove is quick but not so much that it stands out to me.  His lateral movement is very quick.  In the Avs game (if memory serves), he often moved across the net in a closed position, on his knees.  What strikes me here is that, when hurrying to stop a shot (usually a second shot) most goalies move across the net in an open position, legs and arms stretched out, creating a much wider barrier.

I suspect that this is why Bobrovsky seemed to, or perhaps did, move a lot faster: a smaller point of contact with the ice=less friction.  But, moving this way, he also had to move farther and stop very precisely.  That is a disadvantage.  An advantage is that by staying on his knees, he is taller and takes away more of the top of the net.

I distinctly did not see him doing this during the third Pens game. In that game he moved sideways with his arms and a leg out.  I cannot tell if this was due to circumstance or instruction.  In any case, it worked fine.

The incredible shrinking goalie

Another change I saw from the Avs game to the 3rd Pens game was how he closed on the puck.  Against the Avs, he seemed to shrink to an impossibly small size.  He is not small.  I think what gave this illusion was that he would tuck his head down right away. It seems to me that, while this let him use his head to contain the puck, it also prevented him from seeing what was going on around him.  This was a problem once as the puck escaped anyway and was pushed in…

Hm.  Carter just scored again.  I think he had a scoring backlog to address.

As I was saying… other goalies have the same problem, head tucked or not.  Sometimes you think you have it and you don’t.  But with Bob’s quickness, I think he might have stopped it if he’d had a chance to look for it.

Some said, of his performance in earlier games, that he seemed a little afraid, a little overwhelmed.  He may have looked that way.  In the 3rd Pens game he did not, in the least.  Maybe he got over it, or maybe his earlier style of play merely gave that impression.

In the 3rd Pens game, he kept his head up, at least until players started to pile on top of him.

Puck handling

In earlier games, he rarely left the net.  In contrast to Boucher’s many and distant travels,  Bob stayed put.  In Pens game #3, he came out pretty often…

Someone else scored… now I hear a fight going on.  4-0 Flyers.  Aha, it was Pronger.  2 for defense then.

… and I wished he would stay put.  Sure, they won the game, but aside from one very brave play far in front of the net, he mostly gave the puck to the Pens.  Luckily he gave it to them close to the blue line so he had time to get back in net.  He needs to work on his “court vision” (again, I do not have the vocab) before playing the puck so often.

Rush Hour

Somewhere I read that European trained goalies are not so used to dealing with traffic in front of the crease.  This is because, with a wider ice surface, the skaters cannot afford to spend so much time there.  I think.

I cannot tell if Bobrovsky has more or less trouble than he should with traffic.  Traffic seems to beat the best…

…Meszaros seems to have been hit in the face.  Not sure with what.  Probably not a puck since there was a whistle and now there is a scrum.  Meszaros still face down.  This looks a little grim.  Ah, it looks like a shoulder, though not to the head.  The hitter is getting a major penalty.. or a game misconduct?  I can’t tell, the commentators say this is a bad call.  Oh well, it does look blindside to me.  Now I can see Meszaros’ face.  It looks okay, no one lost an eye.  But he is shaken up.  Perhaps his neck got wrenched.

Back to traffic.  I will use Tim Thomas and his freakishly stellar recent play as a model.  One of the the things I have heard mentioned is that he anticipates very well.  He is able to read what he can see and guess accurately what will happen next.  I guess this is the key: no one can see through traffic, they just have to…

Hm.  Penalty shot for the Islanders gives them their first goal.  Poor Bob.  Pronger tripped someone.  Oh dear.

So no one can see through traffic, they just have to really understand what they can see and…

… oops, a Flyer just hit Carter.  Was it Carcillo again?  Shades of playoff panic?  Panic=run into Carter?  Why Carter?  And why panic?  They are still up by three.  It is of course good to recognize that the game is not half over, but…

Oh, Pronger just scored again.  The D is awake.  Sort of like a dragon. You don’t have to make it angry, just wake it up.  That is good, wouldn’t want to let the team wallow in a bad spot.  Pronger is a genius, with healthy knees it would seem.

Okay.  I was trying to say that Bobrovsky is in fact getting better at reading the broken code that is what you can see through traffic.

Tim Panaccio tweeted that it looks like Meszaros has a broken nose and a concussion.  He’s not a doctor but I am sure he’s seen a few such injuries.  That price is too high for this win.

Accelerated Growth

Bob seems to be improving at a phenomenal rate. I’m not sure abandoning the quick closed lateral movement is exactly an improvement.  It did seem to work pretty well on some teams.  But it is risky, it leaves a lot of the net exposed.  I will bet that he re-incorporates that into his arsenal at some point.  I mean, he’s done a lot in the course of five games.

Someone scored again.  Now it is 6-1.  They are showing me Nodl’s back, was it him?

Head shot

I do not know what to make of the save that made the Pens commentators say “wow!”  The shot caught Bobrovsky on the top of the head, and he responded by jumping up and down a couple of times.  The puck seemed to bounce off his shoulders and out of harm’s way.  All I could think was: “that looked like a soccer move.”  (No, I don’t follow ball games but come on, if you live long enough you will see a little of everything.)  I don’t know how effective this trick would be in the course of most hockey games, or even if it worked here.  Maybe Bob just got lucky.  But it was surprising, well worth a “wow!”

How did I miss this?

Bobrovsky was born in the year of the Dragon.  It suddenly becomes clear.  This accelerated development is not so mysterious anymore.  It would not surprise me in the least if he soon earns the label “battler.”

As enthusiastic as I am about Bobrovsky, I am very glad to see this article about Leighton.  So if he is back to practice by the 20th, who knows?  I may yet be able to see him play.  I have a feeling I will have ample opportunity to see Bob play.  Not only is he immensely promising but he is also a Dragon, a sign blessed with uncommon good health.

Back to the game.  Start of the 3rd, Flyers up by 5.  At the end of the second, the Islanders gave Bob some work to do, the shots on goal are now at 24-23 in favor of the Islanders.  Apparently both Nodl and Meszaros are out.  High price indeed.

The Islanders spend most of the period killing penalties.  Roughing, a triple minor, sundry errors.  The Flyers have a 2 man advantage and a five goal lead.  They would have to do something really bizarre to lose this.

I see they are trying.  Briere did something I did not see.  I don’t like the sound of what they are saying about it.  Carcillo did something not surprising for the old Carcillo.  Where or when he plays in the lineup may no longer be an issue.  I will try not to think about any of that just now.

Even with all that, I still doubt the Islanders can even this up in less than a minute.

They could not.

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