Weekes: Goaltending in Final something to behold

Friday, 06.14.2013 / 4:35 PM | Kevin Weekes  - NHL Network Analyst

CHICAGO -- Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask were both fantastic in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

You have to look at not only the number of shots they faced, but a lot of those were quality shots. I think Rask had something like 38 scoring chances against. The number of quality chances both guys faced was crazy, and we’re talking Grade-A, point-blank shots.

Look at how talented both the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins are. A lot of these opportunities are prime scoring chances coming from top guys. I thought both goalies were just outstanding.

They made the routine saves, and they made extraordinary saves. There were some rebound saves as well.

I thought that, considering it was such a long game, they were both technically clean for the most part. During the course of a longer game, it is only natural for your technique to break down.

Fatigue starts to set in, and it is all about how disciplined you are in your technique. Some of those things start going by the wayside a little bit, but to be honest I didn’t think either guy did that -- even into the third overtime. That was something that was very impressive.

Another thing that was so impressive for both goalies was the compete level. Both of them are structurally sound, very technically sound from a butterfly standpoint, but they also compete hard to make a lot of saves. In certain instances, they will do whatever it takes to make a save.

There were several situations like this for both guys in Game 1, but in particular there were a couple great examples for me where Corey Crawford had to make three or four quick saves in a row.

I thought those were unreal saves. It is tough to have a loser in a game like that. For goalie aficionados, there is so much to see in a game like that. For young goalies, or even guys in adult leagues in rec hockey, there was so much to learn from watching that game. Even for a goalie coach, there is always something to learn.

These two goalies have similar styles, but they also have unique characteristics that make them … them.

One thing I’ve talked about with Corey Crawford is he’s a lot more responsive in the net this year. He’s not just all about his structure, and he’s not relying just on his size. He seems more athletic in the net, quicker. It makes him a more dynamic goalie.

I think Tuukka Rask just has the perfect blend of being calm with sound fundamentals and also having that competitive fire. They are very different, but I love watching both of them play.

We all grow as people, and I think it is good for goalies to have that fire. Tuukka had a lot of that when he was younger, but it has to be harnessed. It is funny, but some of the things that make you successful and make you good can also be a challenge for you.

That’s true in life, but definitely as a hockey player. Tuukka Rask is a great example of that. We’ve seen him continue to grow, and continue his maturation process.

The other thing about both of these goalies that people don’t always talk about is both of them really had to earn their way. Tuukka was probably ready before the Bruins were ready for him to be, but the thing about him that I like is he went down to Providence in the American Hockey League and played to earn his spot.

Corey Crawford was the same way. He played in the American League for years. Both guys put their time in to be where they are at. They apprenticed. They rode the buses. They learned the pro game.

Both goalies were almost overripe, especially in Corey Crawford’s case. Speaking to both of them, they’ve said as much, but I know from my experience, going through those progressions has really helped them be ready for this moment.

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