I've got a lot to write about today, so bear with me.
The Nameless Goalie Rule
I know it's confusing a few people, so I'll try to clarify this blog's rule on mentioning the Avalanche goalie's name during game threads.
The purpose of this rule is to avoid jinxing the goalie, which is real and happens all the time. In the initial game thread post, I will avoid using the name, and during the game while the goalie is on the ice (or on the bench for the extra attacker), his name cannot be used. If that goalie is pulled or otherwise out of the lineup, his name can once again be used. You see? Last night, when Jose Theodore was pulled for Peter Budaj, we could once again talk about Theodore because he was out of the game, and Budaj was then off-limits because he was playing.
It is almost a certainty that when someone writes "great save by Theo!" in a game thread, or "Budaj has been awesome so far," he will immediately give up three goals on three shots and the Avalanche will lose. It has happened before.
Once the game is over, you can mention the names all you want because it can't affect their play in that game anymore.
Now, the reason I discourage the mentioning of goalie numbers, nicknames or even the position itself during the game is that jinxes can be set just through the intention of the jinxer. You might say "number 60," but you really mean "Jose Theodore," and that's the same thing as saying his name, as far as jinxes go.
It is best to pretend the goalie doesn't exist during the game. I know it's hard not to compliment him (or disparage him) when it's appropriate, but you're not doing him any favors. Just pretend he's not there until he's off the ice and the game is over. It's not that hard if you set your mind to it.
Am I insane? Maybe. But it's my rule, so hang in there with me.
Any time an opposing blogger or fan talks about Peter Forsberg, they routinely cite his reputation for diving---embellishing a penalty---and call him some clever nickname like "Flopsberg" or "Floppa." He's not alone in drawing this ire. Most skilled players in the league---the goal scorers and playmakers---are the targets of aggressive defense because they're the ones who set up the plays and score the goals. Obviously they are the ones the defensemen are after. The skilled guys are the ones who draw the penalties because they're the ones being obstructed and abused---it's the only way to stop them.
ADDENDUM: Has Peter Forsberg ever taken a dive? Certainly. Has he also taken a lot of abuse that wasn't called by the officials but should have been? Without a doubt. I'm not making excuses for him, just using him as an example.
In his article about what strategies the Rangers should follow against the Penguins, New York Post "writer" Larry Brooks (see what I did there? Ha!) has this to say:
Equally important, however, is what the Rangers must not do in this marquee matchup between Broadway's bright lights and Sidney Crosby's name above the title, for they must not become preoccupied with Pittsburgh's - and No. 87's - penchant for embellishing and contesting every call, and they must not become consumed with matching lines against Crosby or Evegni Malkin.
Crosby is a diver! He fakes penalties!! What a horrible player!!
The whole "diving" label strikes me as ridiculous. There isn't a single hockey player on the ice in the NHL that hasn't, at least once, exaggerated the effect of a tripping, holding, roughing, high-sticking or any other kind of penalty against them. When you can fake out the refs and set your team up with the man advantage, a little embellishment seems like a smart move. Is it honorable? Not really. Is trying to trip, hold, rough or hit a guy with a stick honorable? Nope. Does it really matter? Not at all.
The whole "diver" label is tossed around so much it means nothing anymore. Every team facing another with a skilled, dangerous offensive player will call that guy a diver. And then, during off-season free agency, they will do their best to sign him because he's awesome and they know it.
I could call Henrik Zetterberg a diver (just an example), but why? What difference would it make? I know for certain that, given the chance and the cap space, Francois Giguere would sign him to the Avalanche roster and we'd all wet ourselves in excitement.
So let's drop the silly "he's a diver OMG WTF?!" stuff and just embrace the fact that good embellishment is both a part of the game and a hard thing to get away with on a regular basis. Everybody does it, it's not going away. Shut up already Bruce Ciskie.