Many of them will play Roy's butterfly style, which Allaire strongly endorses, especially if the goalie has size. The place to shoot against a butterflyer is the top of the net, which, in the current close-checking climate that is played in the NHL, is the most difficult portion to hit without having time to set up. "Players these days don't have two or three seconds to shoot," Allaire says. "And to score up top, first you have to see a good spot, then you have to reach it. The shooters are under too much pressure most of the time to do that. That's why as a goalie the bottom of the net is very, very important."
One of the new techniques young goalies are using to defend the bottom of the net in traffic is to drop down and lay the paddle of the stick, which is longer than the blade, across the ice. "Curtis Joseph and Potvin came in with that," says Brodeur, a frequent practitioner of that style. "Nothing goes through your stick, and when the forward doesn't have time to pick a corner or go high, he just wants to take a shot and get out of there. There are also more one-timers and passes across the net than there used to be, so goalies are on the ice more. It's just easier to control the rebound when you're down."
The technique isn't pretty, but the results are apparent. And the success of Potvin and Brodeur will lead other young goalies to play similarly. "It's a wave," says Lemaire. "You get a good goalie who plays the butterfly, then other young goalies coming up play the butterfly."
This doesn't mean that other styles aren't equally effective. "There never has been a single acceptable style," says Sin-den. "Dryden played nothing like Plante. Plante played nothing like Esposito. And none of them played anything like Cheevers. With the Europeans, there are some incredibly unorthodox styles in the league now. Nobody can play like Irbe—although Hasek's pretty close."
"Coaches today are allowing goalies to come in and play their own way," says Davidson. "They only ask one question: Can you stop the puck? I remember when Eddie Belfour came into the league, I thought, My god, what is this? He's down all night. Richter is a stand-up goalie. So is McLean. And Hasek—nobody else lies facedown seven or eight times a game. Nobody else drops his stick a half-dozen times so he can close his hand on the puck.
"Also, the fear factor with injuries has all but disappeared. When we played in the '70s, we'd get pretty bruised up. I remember once the team doctor counted 16 bruises on my arms and legs after a home-and-home series against Philadelphia. The equipment just wasn't as good."
Allaire agrees. "Before, goalies weren't well protected on the face and around the shoulders and arms. They used to stop every shot with their gloves or their pads. Now guys get a shot in the shoulder, and they don't feel it. The pads are lighter. The equipment now is really good."
If the equipment is better, there is no doubt the shots are coming harder. Why, then, fewer goals? As Dryden points out, there's a world of difference between a player who shoots hard—they nearly all do now—and a player who knows how to score. "There are two types of forwards in the NHL," he says. "Scorers and bangers. Scorers score, and bangers bang. Any goalie knows that no matter how many shots a banger takes, how many chances he gets, how many times it looks like he's been robbed, he's still a banger."
Good goalies eat bangers for breakfast, and the balance of power in the league is now such that there are more good goalies than there are good goal scorers. "The pendulum will swing back, but we're here for a while," says the Flames' Risebrough, who is starting an inexperienced goalie, 22-year-old Trevor Kidd, this season. The Washington Capitals, too, are breaking in somebody new, rookie Olaf Kolzig. And the Los Angeles Kings, burned in the past by the inconsistent play of veteran Kelly Hrudey, are giving 19-year-old rookie Jamie Storr a chance to be No. 1.
No doubt other teams will spring a young goalie on the league during the year—some butterflying, paddle-dipping, belly-flopping, octopus-armed, puck-picking bandit who just might take his club deep into June. Great goaltending can cure a lot of ills, and it comes in a variety of packages. As Allaire likes to say, "If you can stop the puck, all the other problems disappear."