One of this year’s biggest stories has been the emergence of Cory Schneider. We’ve already talked about it. A couple of times. Schneider’s strong play, along with Roberto Luongo’s resurgence, has given Vancouver a goaltending tandem unrivaled by any other in their 40 years. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
But if there’s one thing PITB stands for, it’s perspective (although the P still stands for “Pass”). Luongo and Schneider are good–the best net-minding tandem Vancouver’s ever had. But there are many, many superior net-minding tandems. Let’s take a look at some of them:
It’s hard to argue against the one-two punch of Thomas & Rask, who have both led the NHL in save percentage once over the past two seasons. In 2008, Thomas had a Vezina calibre season, and in 2009, Rask nearly won the Calder after winning the starting job away from him. This season, Thomas is back as the number one, and Boston again leads the league in goals allowed by a wide margin. Special third partner: Claude Julien’s defensive system.
This list is not limited to the present. Some say there’s never been a greater one-two punch than Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck, the hall of fame tandem that tended goal for New York Rangers in the late eighties and early nineties. Special third partner: The bottomless purse of the New York Rangers, which allowed them to put a pretty decent team in front of their goalies.
This list is not limited to the real. The goaltending tandem of Greg Goldberg and Julie “The Cat Gaffney” minds the net in the fictional world of the D2: The Mighty Ducks, wherein the entire Mighty Ducks team is chosen to represent the United States at the Junior Goodwill Games. Although Gaffney is clearly a superior goalie, she is A) a girl and B) a new, crudely-sketched character (along with Luis “Speedy Gonzales on skates” Mendoza and the Dwayne “Two minutes for roping” Robertson), so she gets very little face time. This is until Iceland sends Gunner Stahl over the boards in a climactic shootout, and coach Gordon Bombay plays a hunch. Special third partner: Russ Tyler, who also briefly plays goal in the film, but only as part of a knucklepuck-based trick play.
This list is not limited to living organisms. In terms of consistency, the goal posts may be the finest netminding tandem of all time. Not only do they block a lot of shots, but they’re as old as the game itself. Yes, since hockey was invented, the goal posts been there in some fashion, minding the very parameters of the net. These days, there is no more important tandem, for without goal posts, it’s just a loose net laying on the ice, and in the fast-paced NHL, that could be very, very dangerous. Special third partner: the crossbar, which is not unlike a goal post, except for its perpendicularity.
This list is not limited to hockey. If we’re talking about alternative net-minding tandems, how about the tandem that minds the NBA’s New Jersey Nets: Russian entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov and hip hop legend Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. This Net-minding tandem, self-described as the blueprint for greatness, may not have landed Lebron, but they’re slowly return the crappy Nets to respectability. Special third partner: Brett Ratner, the Nets’ third owner, who is much less awe-inspiring than a mysterious Russian billionaire and Young Hov, especially since he made Rush Hour 3.
This list is not limited to sports. There are nets outside of athletic competitions, such as the Internet, and from my experience, no tandem protects the world wide web like the two-headed watchdog of Net Nanny and McAfee Virus Scan. As a child who grew up with a computer in my room, these complementary software programs guarded me from an onslaught of viruses and confusing sexual images. Special third partner: my parents, who installed both programs, and never knocked.
And, as long as we’re on this train, no tandem minded the Internet quite like the Bush Administration and the Patriot Act, which drastically violated your right to privacy by expanding the government’s ability to monitor online communications, including full access to online networks without warrants, all in the name of national security. It’s a Ted Saskin dream come true. Special third partner: Irrational fear of foreign invasion, often called Don Cherry syndrome.
And finally, as long as we’re expanding the list to consider other types of net, consider the fishing net, perhaps best used by Biblican fishermen John and James, sons of Zebedee. These guys were expert netminders, perhaps never better than when Jesus, the Claude Julien of the Bible, introduced a solid system that really inflated their numbers: let God tell you where to fish. Special third partner: The Apostle Peter, who also fished, but never seemed to stay in the boat.Tags: Best of PITB, Canucks, Cory Schneider, Goaltending, Luongo, net-minding tandems, Questionable Comedic Content