You know the old cliche “Some things are best forgotten”? That is true for hockey goalies. For every single goal allowed, no matter if it is one where the goalie let in a softie or a shot that is impossible to save, the goalie will always feel some degree of responsibility.
When a goal is scored, the goalie will feel like they let their team down. When a team is trailing, the dwelling will be worse. This causes a goalie to lose confidence and focus. They become shaky and they will end up allowing another goal and it will just keep on getting worse and worse. This is precisely what happened to James Reimer Tuesday night. After allowing the first goal, Reimer appeared to be shaky and the game ended up at 4-4. This has been extremely consistent throughout Reimer’s career. I have firsthand knowledge of how he is feeling. In soccer I have played a little bit of goalie. This year during a playoff game, I let up two goals that were nearly impossible to save. However I felt like I was to blame. What if I had rushed the ballcarrier and made him panic? What if I had ran out and grabbed the ball before the forward arrived in the box? These what ifs shook me. On my next shot, I saved it and I walked forward, so my teammates can run out and get open. However, because I was shaken, I walked too far and ended up punting from the circle box, which you aren’t allowed to. They got a free kick, which thankfully they missed, but because I couldn’t put the past behind me, I put my team in danger of getting into a 3-0 hole. Goalies need to have a short memory. After I let in a goal, I would try to console myself. That made things worse. By consoling myself, I kept letting myself focus on the past. This is the same in almost all sports. A pitcher gets shaky after allowing a home run. A linebacker gets upset after missing his block. The best thing to do is stay in the moment. Get captivated in the game. Watch as your team is on offense and just shift your body when on defense.
No goalie will have the same swagger after allowing a goal, but there are ways to control the damage. Reimer had a phenomenal 1st period Tuesday, but after allowing the first goal, he lost his mo-jo and allowed three more goals. It is imperative to look at the glass half full. As humans we are naturally pessimistic. Even the biggest optimist uses their optimism to put up boundaries, so people can’t see their actual feelings. Why do we do this? Because, we are worried if we are pessimistic then others will be upset and worried, and you will feel bad if things go well (feeling like a traitor or moron). I’m going to be completely honest here. Back during the first part of last year, I put up a shield of optimism. However, back in my mind, something was nagging at me. It was the natural pessimism. I somehow knew that the pessimism was right but I didn’t want to admit it. Therefore, I kept up my optimism shield and revealed my true age so I can add more layers. This way people could have left me alone. It’s easy to be beyond happy when you go on a winning streak or depressed when on a losing streak. That is life. I wasn’t feeding into the negativity from twitter in my mind which I thought I was. Looking back, I knew deep inside, several changes could result in a catastrophic thing.
However , when you are out in the game you can’t be optimistic or pessimistic. You need to shut down your emotions, which sadly is impossible. The perfect player would be a skilled player, tall, strong, fast and with no emotions. We are humans though. Emotions make us human. Goalies need to control emotions. Instead of just being bland Mr. Spock like or feeling terrible after allowing a goal, they need to think “I allowed a goal. However, I need to make up for it. Instead of dwelling on it, let’s come up with a big save and hope my teammates can get some goals too”. If anyone from the Panther organization is reading this, I strongly recommend you show this to James Reimer. He might be able to realize the problem, control it and become a true elite goalie. Reims is a great goalie, but he gets too distracted after allowing a goal.
It’s okay to be pessimistic and upset. That is life. It is okay to be upset out in sports and allow it to distract your play. However, if you take that route to the extreme, you will let countless of people down. When out there in team sports, you want the fans and teammates, as well as management to be happy. The best way to do that is to forget about emotions and just focus. It’s hard to stop a 95 mph puck hurtling toward you. Fans need to realize that. If you go with staying in the moment, you will likely see more success.