TRH GAMEDAY 73 – NEW YORK RANGERS: Protect Your Neck

The Los Angeles Kings began their season-making or season-breaking five game road trip on a strong note, picking up a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. However, it should be stated that the New Jersey squad that took the ice last night was a frail shell of the proud franchise that the Kings took down for their first-ever Stanley Cup championship in 2012.

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Eight shots through 40 minutes is good, right?

While it was the start they needed to their road trip, the Kings do not have time to dwell on their victory in New Jersey. Instead a quick turnaround is in store, as Los Angeles makes the trip across the river to take on yet another team that it has beaten in the Stanley Cup Finals, the New York Rangers.

Unfortunately, just as was the case with the Devils, the Rangers are a mere shadow of the team they were when they met up with the Kings when the lights were at their brightest.

No, not when it comes to winning hockey games and picking up points – sitting at a tie for first place in the entire NHL, these Blueshirts have found a way to do that quite effectively this year.

But where New York’s lineup has faded recently is in the dapper, good-looking department, as the always-suave Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t seen game action since Feb. 2, just a couple days after this happened:

Ouch.

Ranger fans recently breathed a collective sigh of relief, as Lundqvist was cleared last week to practice after missing over a month and a half with what was coined a “vascular injury.” Fans of Europeans wearing extravagantly nice clothes were also relieved that Lundqvist is back to making people feel inadaquate on daytime television. While he is poised to make his return to the New York net soon, Hank’s injury was an important reminder that – even while wearing thousands of dollars of advanced protective gear – a goaltender’s job is occasionally dangerous and that pucks can hurt.

So, as the resident goalie guy here at The Royal Half, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explain where a speeding hockey puck can dish out the most pain. So without further adieu, I present:

TRH’S TOP FIVE WORST PLACES TO GET HIT WITH A PUCK 

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5. The Head

Most people assume that the last place a goalie would ever want to take a slap shot is right off the melon. It is against every shred of a person’s instincts and drive for self-preservation to stare down a shooter and wear one off of their mask. If this list was made in the 1930’s, the head would probably be at the top of the list.

But today’s mask is arguably the most advanced piece of gear a goalie can wear, most of the time when a puck buzzes the tower you can hardly feel it. Taking one in the dome is usually stuns you more than it hurts you. Occasionally there is some ringing in the ears afterward, but for the most part a shot to the head is relatively easy to shake off.

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That is unless the puck literally gets lodged in your eyeball…

Or if the puck happens to be shot by offensive juggernaut Jonathan Cheechoo.

4. The Groin

Fellas, did you just get a sinking feeling in your stomachs? Taking a puck off of the package is always a dicey situation. With the borderline-bulletproof goalie pants that are the standard today, and the even bulkier athletic cups that are worn, the vulnerable area below the belt is well-guarded. But it is not impenetrable by any means. Most of the time a shot that is headed to the no-fly zone can be stopped with a stick or a glove before impact, but on those rare occasions it finds the sweet spot – it is no laughing matter. On the other hand, footballs and groins are always funny.

https://youtu.be/mV1LWhNpTJU

It’s in the Geneva Convention that any time groins are mentioned,
this video must be played.

NOTE- This might be the first time in over two months that someone at TRH has talked about jocks and the groinal area without referring to Joe Thornton.

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3. Collarbone

We’ve already debunked the common misconception that the head is the most feared place to take a shot. It’s actually just under the head where a goalie can really get stung. Most netminders will wear an internal neck guard or a “dangler”, the curved piece of lexan that hangs just under their chin. But because every piece of gear needs to be mobile, there is a small area of vulnerability that is left, and getting a puck to a soft spot near the neck and shoulders really sucks. Just ask Roberto Luongo.

2. Throat

I don’t think I even need to say anything. This is not fun.

1. Nowhere

Lundqvist makes a good point. In most cases, anytime a goalie takes a laser to the head, the neck, the collarbone, or right in the shorts the puck does not go in the net.

https://youtu.be/bYL53BGuPB0

Most of the time.

The objective for a goaltender is still to get in the way of as many pucks as they can; the law of averages dictates that some of those might hurt. Even though the shot he took to the jugular has caused him to miss 23 games (and counting), I’d be willing to bet Lundqvist would say that he’s had to endure even more painful shots in the past year.

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If you thought we would make it through a whole post about a Kings-Rangers matchup without using this photo, you give us entirely too much credit.

TRH TENDER SWIPE TO VICTORY MATCHUP™

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Knick Rickle was a former junior and college goaltender and is a current aspiring journalist and mediocre adult league goaltender. While growing up in Minneapolis, he learned how to play by attending Robb Stauber's goalie school, which unbeknownst to him at the time was the first step in becoming a Kings fan. The rest of the steps came when became probably the first person ever to move to California from Minnesota to play hockey. He currently is unemployed, holds an English degree, while contributing to #TeamTRH, so you be the judge how his hockey career turned out. You can follow KnickRickle on Twitter @KnickRickle.