You may have noticed that Chris Tanev is getting beat up in front of the net recently — Not by opposing players, but by the puck. It seems to be a nightly occurrence for Tanev to block a heavy shot, drop to the ice in pain, and then make his way to the dressing room, get attended to by Mike Burnstein, and come back to the game. It’s happened so often that I’ve taken to calling him Chris “Walk it Off” Tanev.
For instance, he took a Shea Weber slapshot to the knee that cracked his knee pad during the Canucks’ game against the Nashville Predators on March 14th. He went directly to the dressing room and I thought his night was done. That’s the same Shea Weber that shot a puck through the net during the Olympics. Instead, he walked it off and came straight back to the bench. He ended up not missing a shift.
Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues, Tanev took a shot to the side of the head on Patrik Berglund’s goal and left the game. There was good reason to be concerned: a puck to the head can break a player’s jaw or orbital bone or even cause a concussion. But, after the game, reports came in that Tanev was fine.
Why does Tanev keep getting (temporarily) injured by shots? It’s because he seems to think that he’s a road hockey goalie. By all indications, he’s a pretty good one too.
I didn’t actually play much ice hockey growing up, but road hockey was another story. I played a lot of road hockey growing up and my favourite position was goaltender. If you were lucky as a road hockey goalie, you had a baseball glove. If you weren’t, you had a baseball hat. If you were really luck you had foam pads. I was really lucky. Mine had Ed Belfour’s famous eagle mask on them and they saved me from numerous bruises and road rash.
It seems like Tanev spent a long time as a road hockey goalie growing up without the benefit of pads, a glove, or even a hat. Take a look at his ridiculous kick save against the Detroit Red Wings from last Saturday:
That’s a classic kick save and a beauty. But if that’s not enough proof for you that Tanev thinks less like a defenceman and more like a road hockey goalie, how about his attempted glove save on Dustin Brown during game two of the playoffs last season? Jim Hughson was convinced that Tanev made the save and was soundly ridiculed for it. But take a look at Tanev’s form and tell me that you wouldn’t have made the same mistake.
Everything about this picture screams “road hockey goalie.” Holding a non-goalie stick as if it were a goalie stick. Going down on one knee and kicking out the other leg. The attempted rainbow glove save. If Tanev had a baseball hat, he would have saved that shot.
Tanev is currently second on the Canucks in blocked shots with 50, just two behind Alex Edler, but Tanev plays about 6-and-a-half fewer minutes per game than Edler. Normally blocking a lot of shots isn’t a good thing, as it’s an indication that the opponent has the puck and is taking shots, neither of which are a good thing. But Tanev also leads all Canucks defencemen in Corsi, indicating that when he is on the ice, the Canucks have the puck and out-shoot their opposition.
Tanev leads all Canucks’ defenceman with the lowest shots on goal against when he is on the ice. He’s not just blocking shots because the opponents are taking a lot of shots when he’s on the ice. He’s blocking shots because he’s damn good at it.Tags: Chris Tanev, Road Hockey, Statistics