(SP) – A new study by the Foundation for Sport Research has found that the vast majority of saves made by hockey goaltenders that are described as “amazing” or “miracles” are actually due to the puck carrier simply shooting the puck directly into the goalie’s torso, legs or arms.
“Our research found that even professional goalies don’t have the reaction speed necessary to spot, track and save pucks shot at high velocity from the faceoff circles in,” said Dave Qualman, who led the study. “So usually the puck doesn’t go into the back of the net simply because of the shooter lacks the accuracy to put it into an open spot. We find that even the best ice hockey goalies are, no offense, just well-positioned meat bags.”
The Foundation for Sport Research also spoke to dozens of goalies to gather anecdotal research for the study during hockey player workouts. The goalies were granted anonymity, but confirmed the findings of the study.
“Honestly, I just try to face in the general direction of the puck and then hope it hits me,” said one. “Sometimes I’ll flail an arm or a leg out and the puck will hit there and I’ll be like: ‘Oh, shit. That was so lucky.’ And then my team will give me a huge, multimillion dollar contract or I’ll get a Vezina Trophy. It’s a pretty great gig.”
Another goalie said the randomness of saving pucks makes the job frustrating.
“When the puck is hitting off my body, it’s great,” said a longtime NHL starter. “It’s easy. But then there can be periods where it seems like everything is going in and people boo you and say you should be benched. And I’m like: ‘I’m just randomly throwing my arms and legs out like I usually do. It’s not my fault it’s not working right now,’ you know? Some days a shot lands in your glove, some days it doesn’t.”
Skaters said they agreed with the research, as well.
“If I think back over my career,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, “the shots I had on goal that didn’t go in are because I shot it right off the goalie. I need to stop doing that.”
The NHL has rejected the findings of the study, however.
“I mean, sure, it makes sense,” read a league statement. “But we prefer that people don’t realize how much of scoring in hockey is about luck and random chance. It can make the whole endeavor feel pointless and even cruel to people who are emotionally invested in it.”