Goaltenders are always in the spotlight during an NHL game and their mistakes seem to loom longer than their success.
The action gets crazy around the net and goalies either make a great save or get scored on. They nearly always get blamed for a loss even though, as Carolina Hurricanes co-captain Justin Faulk told me, “their job is, essentially, to save you, it’s your mistakes they’re trying to cover up. You can’t sit here and get mad at goalies and blame goalies when they cover our behind more times than we can imagine.”
Even though a player has to get through forwards and defensemen to get to the goaltender, it’s often believed to be the goalie’s fault when a team gives up goals. However, here are three examples when it was the goalie’s fault, infamous mistakes that the culprits would love to forget.
Patrick Roy Wants Your Huddled Masses
Patrick Roy is the greatest goaltender in NHL history, in my opinion. Well, maybe it’s Martin Brodeur. Here we’ll focus on the one glaring time Roy was not all that great. In fact, he was pretty bad. The stage was the 2002 Western Conference Final between Roy’s Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings.
In Game 6, the Avalanche held a 3-2 series lead. The game was scoreless until suddenly Roy’s ego might have got in the way. In 2016, Nathan Webb of Detroit Sports Nation described the play perfectly:
“In the closing moments of a scoreless first period, Steve Yzerman had a great scoring chance on Roy, who ended up stoning him on the play. The Red Wings got the puck right back, cycled around the zone and took it right back to the net, again by Yzerman. Roy appeared to make a second great stop, and in flashy fashion, went to hold the “puck” up in his glove; problem was that it wasn’t actually in his glove. It slipped under him and skittered towards the goal as he got to his skates, allowing Brendan Shanahan to fly in and poke it into the goal.”
The Red Wings added another goal to win that game and went on to win Game 7 and the series. It may have been the crowning moment that lost the series for the Avalanche and a moment that Roy would love to erase. It’s been coined that “Statue of Liberty Play” because he looked to be greeting the huddled masses with his glove held high.
Roy was accused of “hot-dogging” and maybe he was. He used to delight in making sure the other team knew that he’d shut them down. But, in this instance, it’s more likely that he just made a mistake, thinking he had the puck and raising his glove to show that the play was over, only to find that Shanahan had the puck on the end of his stick and was putting it into the net.
Ben Bishop Stay in Your Crease Please
There are times when goaltenders seem to have short mental lapses, times when they forget what it is that they are supposed to do. Such was the case for Ben Bishop in Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Apparently Bishop decided that he was feeling confined within the space in front of the net, and wanted to skate around a bit. Or something.
Presumably, there was a rhyme to Bishop’s reason, but Jordan Greer of the Sporting News describes what happened, as Bishop was far away from the goal when “Wham!” he collided with teammate Victor Hedman. They both went down like a train wreck and Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks skated happily to the wide-open empty net and nudged the puck in for the goal.
It was not one of Bishop’s finest moments, and the Blackhawks went on to win the series and their third Stanley Cup in six years. Bishop will go down as one of the NHL’s best goalies ever, but that mistake will always be a part of the “Bishop Legacy”.
Scott Darling: “I Got It!”
Scott Darling joined the Carolina Hurricanes after a successful stint playing backup for Blackhawks starting goalie, Corey Crawford, and was to replace Cam Ward as the ‘Canes’ starting goaltender. Ward had held the job since 2006, and management thought it was time to relegate him to backup status.
Darling had his problems right from the beginning and his first season with the Hurricanes was not pretty. Darling made one of the worst mistakes in the history of NHL goaltending and, for that, he tops this list mistakes that didn’t help his team..
In a game versus the New York Rangers, Darling stood to his full height and appeared ready for any plays set for the outfield. Sadly, he seemed to have lost the puck in the sun and this happened:
Mika scored from where!! This #NYR 🚨 is a MUST 👀
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 23, 2017
Mika Zibanejad hit one deep and Darling, forgetting to drop his shades, lost it in the light of one of the exit signs in Raleigh’s PNC Arena and that was all she wrote. Perhaps if he had just yelled, “I got it!” he would have been able to snag the puck out of the air and safely into his glove.
Darling is still with the Hurricanes, though according to the new general manager, Don Waddell, a change of some sort is needed within the team’s goaltender situation. You think? Whether he returns to Carolina for another season or the Hurricanes find a team willing to take his $4 million a year contract, Darling will go down in hockey lore as having made a classic goalie mistake.
Do you have your own “Best Goalie Mistakes” list? Please share them in the “Comments” section so we can all enjoy them.
You can also enjoy a post on the strangest goaltenders in the NHL.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.