Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Lalime: near sniper 

On a day when puck handling goaltenders were rumoured to be facing extinction, Patrick Lalime, whose skills in that area have been shaky at times, nearly became one of the rare goaltenders to score a goal. The attempt came as a surprise (to me at least) and I was disappointed to see it miss. The Sun had the following description:

Todd White's missed chance from the slot -- with Blues goalie Chris Osgood on the bench for an extra attacker -- created the good natured ribbing you'd imagine it would. Especially since Patrick Lalime came almost as close to scoring with a backhand only moments later. Asked if he mentioned that small fact to White after the game, Lalime laughed. "It's the first thing I told him," he said. White explained his effort by saying he believed he was going to be rushed by the closest two St. Louis players. "Apparently, I had a little more time than I thought I had," he acknowledged with a grin. "At least that's what all the guys are saying." ... Lalime said he's never come so close to scoring in his life. And make no mistake, he was trying to score. "We had a two-goal lead, why not? I figured it would be a good time for it. I've never really tried before. I've never really made it the full length of the ice, I don't think. But that was a pretty good backhand, eh?," he said, then looking for Shaun Van Allen, added: "It was probably as hard as Vanner's slap shot."

Lalime would have been the 7th goaltender to score a goal, but only the 5th to do it on purpose. Billy Smith and Damian Rhodes didn't shoot at the net but were the last to touch the puck before errant clearing attempts.

The near-miss was characteristic of a game that featured bursts of the spectacular, surrounded by stretches of nothingness. Both of Hossa's goals were spectacular, as were his and Alfredsson's near misses (both hit posts/crossbars on breakaways). Chara also hit a post early on and was challenged to a fight by Mini-Me.

In the end, what may be most important was that Lalime looked much better in nets than he has in a while. He didn't have to make any spectacular saves, but he did make a few very good ones, including a nice glove stop off the stick of Murray Baron (IIRC). Very encouraging.