The goalie is the heart of any team, and each one has his own particular style. The younger ones tend to rely on quick reflexes, while veterans like Johnny Bower, Gump Worsley, Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall are more scientific. When they skate out from the net to cut down a shooter's angle they know from experience just how far to go to block off the biggest portion of the goal.
There are goalies who scramble all over the ice and at times leave their net unguarded. There are goalies who flop to the ice and are sometimes a little late getting back up, like Sawchuk of Los Angeles and Worsley of my own team used to do. There are goalies who play down on their knees and maybe stay there too long, like Roger Crozier of the Red Wings. And there are goalies like Eddie Giacomin of the Rangers who rely mostly on a very fast glove hand, and Denis DeJordy of the Black Hawks, who can flop, kneel and rove all in the same game. I like my goalies to stay close to the net, although they must move out at times to cut the shooter's angle or go behind the goal once in a while to stop a loose puck for one of the defensemen. Goalies are paid to guard the net, and if there is anything I hate it is seeing a puck roll into a net left unguarded by a wandering goaltender. Goalies do a hundred good things every game, but occasionally they offset all of it by being caught out of place just one time.
The most important job of a coach is to keep his goaltender happy at all times. Bawl him out and he may be thinking about the bawling out instead of the game. A coach must have the goaltender on his side.
You will get more out of the game if you recognize and appreciate the men who play more roles than one. Take the "policeman." Every team has one or more to protect the smaller players from undue physical punishment. You do not have to be an old fan to spot Teddy Green of Boston, Reggie Fleming and Vic Hadfield of New York or John Ferguson and Ted Harris of the Canadiens. I have a fast but light center named Ralph Backstrom. It is tempting for other teams to rack him up, but if that happens they know Ferguson is going to deal out some rugged body checks to the guys bothering Ralph.
Some policemen, like Ferguson, Hadfield, Green and Fleming, never back away from fights, while others, such as Harris and Orland Kurtenbach of the Rangers, mind their own business until trouble actually breaks out someplace on the ice. Fights in hockey, though, generally are the result of something that happened two or three games before. It is sometimes said that hockey fights are faked. They aren't, but since it is hard to get set for a punch on ice skates, usually little damage is done.
Then there are the penalty killers. We lost both of ours—Jimmy Roberts and Jean Guy Talbot—in the expansion draft, and that certainly will hurt us this season. Penalty killers are players with good defensive qualities who try to break up the other team's attack—harass the puck carriers, interrupt the opponent's momentum, steal the puck, if possible, and play keep away with it—to "kill" the time when their own club is short-handed due to a penalty.
Penalties are inescapable, I guess, but I think many of them are completely unnecessary. These are the ones most frequently called:
HOLDING. This generally is a stupid penalty to take. Grabbing an opponent momentarily will rarely get you a penalty, but doing it obviously and for any length of time will not go unpunished. Doug Harvey, who was the best defense-man in the league for a dozen years when he played for the Canadiens, was a master at tying up a player without making a big spectacle of it.
TRIPPING. A real judgment penalty, usually called only when the trip is flagrant and/or intentional. Tripping is more apt to be called when the play is in the attacking zone than out at center ice, where the action is not as crucial.
HOOKING. A dangerous act in which the curved part of the hockey stick is hooked into the body or the arms of another player.