Monday, April 14, 2008

Hasek Done? My October Worries Were Misplaced

It was only six months ago, but it may as well have been six years ago, for as inaccurate as it was. Yes, I, Greg Eno, in a fit of over-reaction, banged out these words in this blog about Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek. The date was October 17, 2007:

But this season, early on, Hasek looks more like a 42-year-old playing goalie than a goalie who happens to be 42.

His GAA is 2.94, with an unsightly save pct. of .874.

...already, I've seen pucks bounce off Hasek's helmet, off his shoulder, through his pads, and they've all ended up in the net. He's been a mediocre netminder, truth be told, in his 306 minutes played.

It hasn't been mentioned, and perhaps it's too early to do so -- especially with the Red Wings doing alright with a 4-2-1 record -- but I don't think it's overreacting to suggest that we need to keep an eye on Hasek to see whether this bumpy start is an anomaly or the start of a trend downward. Again, how quickly does a 42-year-old goalie start to go downhill?

Hasek keeps himself in marvelous shape. Few, if any, goalies work as hard as he does -- on and off the ice. But at what point does the calendar overtake the reflexes, the instincts, the peripheral vision? Working hard isn't the only prerequisite.

Yes, I know; I ought to be paddled with Hasek's goal stick for leaping to such conclusions barely three weeks into the freaking season. While it's true that his start wasn't the best, in retrospect my suggestion that Hasek was perhaps done seems fraught with Chicken Little.

Hasek is not done. Not even close, I'd even say.

Hasek, maybe more so than anyone, was responsible for the Red Wings' 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their first-round series. He was his old self -- and by that I mean his Cup-winning self -- in the first period, especially, and at the end, with the Preds up two men due to a penalty and an empty net. Hasek stonewalled the Preds' furies, and his numbers reflect his play: 1.50 GAA and .932 save pct. after two games.

But one of my concerns still holds, and that's, how DO you know when a 43-year-old goalie is about to collapse like a house of cards? Does it happen suddenly, or do his talent and reflexes dissipate slowly? Is Hasek going to be great during this playoff run, then not good at all next season? Or will he simply retire, thus saving me all these questions?

Dominik Hasek was stellar against the Predators in Game 2. He was pretty darn good in Game 1, though not as busy. He's making my October worries seem ridiculous in their embellishment.

I'm enjoying this crow, though. I could even get into chowing it through June, if you know what I mean.

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