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Puck Lists: 8 worst NHL Playoff goals that I just remembered right now

(As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special Tuesday series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.) 

8. Kevin Bieksa on Antti Niemi, May 24, 2011

Weird bounces happen in the playoffs. Take, for example, this goal that eliminated the Sharks from the 2011 Western Conference Final, in double overtime.

Alex Edler attempts a chip in from the blue line, but it goes about five feet down the boards before it hits the stanchion and bounces straight to Kevin Bieksa. No one on the ice but Bieksa seemed to have the faintest idea where the puck was, and San Jose was busy indicating that it must have gone over the glass while Bieksa was knuckle-pucking a shot past Niemi. In fact, it appears that it wasn't until the very last second that Niemi is even aware there was a shot at all.

Of all the people on the ice, though, Niemi should have been the guy to see it. He doesn't have to watch anything but the puck when it's out at the blue line like that. Yeah, you can lose it sometimes, but you really shouldn't. Have to think fatigue was a factor here.

7. Carl Hagelin on Tuukka Rask, May 23, 2013

For some bizarre reason, Tuukka Rask has a reputation in Boston for not being a big-game goalie. This goal probably didn't help.

Johnny Boychuk was tracking Carl Hagelin well enough. A half-hearted attempt to backhand the puck on net gets deflected low, and Rask just flat-out falls on his big ol' butt. There's not much to break down or explain here, but it looks like an early scene from a Mighty Ducks movie. Then he tries to pull the puck back into his body with the heel of his stick and whiffs.

Not a good turn of events for your old pal Tuukka here.

Said Rask after the game: “I just took a step to the side in what I think probably was a skate mark or something. I lost my balance and the rest is history. We gave them a couple of gifts, and it cost us the game.”

The other gift he was talking about? He also allowed this goal in the same game.

One can only assume many a water bottle was thrown in the dressing room after the game.

6. Joe Nieuwendyk on Patrick Lalime (twice!), April 20, 2004

The last time the Leafs won a playoff round, they did so in somewhat surprising fashion. This was in the free-wheeling, money-spending days of Toronto, when they had a 1996 All-Star lineup (Gary Roberts, Owen Nolan, Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny, Brian Leetch, Ed Belfour, etc.) and ended up being a 103-point team.

Lalime was in the midst of playing himself out of Ottawa anyway, but these two nearly identical goals — coming when the team was already down 1-0 in Game 7 of the first round — were the last pair of nails in the coffin. Goals on not-particularly-hard wristers from outside the faceoff dots

Conceding those at 12:19 and 21 seconds of the first period to go down 3-0 just about did it for your ol' pal Patty Lalime in Ottawa. But can you believe dude kicked around the NHL for another six seasons? He never had another save percentage north of .907, but he played in the league until 2010-11. Maybe someone should've forwarded this YouTube clip. 

Listen to how hard the announcers are ripping that first goal. You never hear that kind of thing. Woof.

But to be fair, it's hard to figure out which of these is worse. Probably the second one. Look, I don't know anything about goaltending mechanics but “standing there with your legs kinda open on a perimeter shot” probably isn't in the handbook.

5. Owen Nolan on Roman Turek, April 25, 2000

I'm including this one in honor of all the “How the hell did a slap shot from center ice make it in?” candidates. Much respect to Lidstrom-on-Cloutier and O'Connell-on-Wregget and even Langenbrunner-on-Osgood, but this is the very best one of the bunch. 

The Blues were a 114-point team that season. The Sharks finished with just 87. And that was before the advent of the loser point, so being a 114-point team was not only good enough to win the Presidents' Trophy, it was three wins clear the juggernaut Red Wings. Hell, they won 51 out of 82 games.

So the fact that the Sharks even ended up forcing a Game 7 is kind of bonkers. The Blues, though, actually trailed 3-1 in the series and fought back to force a deciding game is somewhat surprising.

But then, with only about 15 seconds left in the first period and the Sharks already holding a 1-0 lead, Owen Nolan gained the red line, carried the puck another seven or eight feet, and just wired one at Roman Turek. 

Turek was no bum, either. He finished second in Norris voting that year with a .912 save percentage, one of the highest in the league. Nolan, who seemed to only be looking for a change, just caught him off his line.

The Sharks went on to lose in the second round to Dallas, getting crushed 4-1. They were the Sharks, after all.

4. Robert Reichel on Roman Cechmanek, April 14, 2003

It's easy to get distracted at work, especially if one thing goes wrong. All your attention can very quickly go from a thing you were supposed to be doing to fixing the problem.

For a goalie, Job No. 1 is stopping shots, but when you lose your glove, it's natural that a goalie would want to get that glove put on again very, very quickly. For whatever dumb reason, the NHL doesn't have a rule that whistles play dead when a goalie loses that bit of equipment, so Cechmanek scrambling to get his hand back in there is understandable.

But that thing about stopping shots? Cechmanek was too busy futzing with the glove to notice that Robert Reichel of all people was about to shoot the puck from the corner. So it whizzed by his head and into the net, making him look up like, “Huh, what happened?” 

Fortunately for the Flyers, the goal didn't end up mattering all that much. They went on to win the series 4-3 before losing to Ottawa in the next round.

3. Sandis Ozolinsh on Martin Brodeur, May 31, 2003

“That's the weirdest goal I've seen in the Stanley Cup championship series.”

Bob Cole said that. Bob Cole has seen plenty of Stanley Cup Finals in his day, but he said that about this Sandis Ozolinsh goal that doesn't begin to make sense.

Ozolinshcomes across the red line with the puck and appears to try to start a dump-and-chase sequence. Craig Darby is draped all over him, and it appears the dump-in attempt hits his stick and goes from heading toward the corner to heading toward the end boards. Brodeur being Brodeur tries to come out and play it, seems to lose his footing, then starts to drop his stick. It goes off the stick, through his five-hole, and into the net. That goal made it 2-1, and the Ducks went on to win the game 3-2 in overtime.

But Brodeur had the last laugh, finishing with just nine goals allowed in the seven-game series, including shutouts in Games 1, 2, and 7.

How about the call from Harry Neale to wrap up the analysis of Brodeur's big blunder: “It's living proof that even Betty Crocker burns the odd cake!” 

2. Steve Yzerman on Patrick Roy, May 29, 2002

The Statue of Liberty, of course. “Patrick Roy just got caught hot-dogging.” All that stuff.

You know it, you love it. You've probably seen the mini-documentary on it. The goal is Patrick Roy encapsulated perfectly: Super-athletic save, then being a moron and celebrating before realizing the puck was not in his glove. 

Everything that could have possibly been said about this play has been already, so we'll just close with this:

1. Jason Chimera on Steve Mason, April 16, 2016

This isn't just recency bias talking.

Okay, maybe it is a little, but I don't think so: This isn't a goalie feeling like he made an unbelievable save he, in fact, didn't all-the-way make. This isn't a weird double- or even single bounce. This isn't lost equipment. And it's not a wired slap shot. This isn't a weird angle in the attacking zone.

It's a slow-moving, flat, tip-in from just beyond center ice just completely beats poor Steve Mason in the most embarrassing way possible. 

Everything he does here is wrong. Doesn't really get square to the puck, doesn't seal his five-hole, reacts with the stick way too early, etc. This is a play he's probably made about 20,000 times in his career at all levels, and one cannot imagine he ever came close to having things go this level of horribly wrong.

Most goals from more than 100 feet away have something happen along the way. The “something” that happened here was “Steve Mason [expletive]-ed up.” There's just no other way to put it.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.




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