Being a goalie is a tough life. When your team scores, you’re standing all by yourself 200 feet away from the action. When your team gives up a goal, you’re right there in the middle of it. Your entire job revolves around preventing bad things, and no matter how well you play, those bad things will happen eventually. A lot. And when they do, you’ve suddenly got 18,000 fans and who knows how many TV viewers staring at you.
It can all be pretty stressful. Which is why it’s always been vaguely fascinating to see how goalies react when they allow a goal. It’s an important decision because there’s a wide range of options available and not all of them are positive.
In an effort to help out my goaltending friends, I figured we should break this down in more detail. So here are the official power rankings of goaltender reactions, based on a rigid, scientific methodology of this is my post so I can make it up as I go along.
10. The Water Bottle Chug
A timeless classic, the water bottle chug has been the go-to move of sad goalies for decades. It’s just about the most clichéd thing a goalie can do, to the point where longtime fans barely even notice it anymore. I guess red lights just make these guys really thirsty.
While it seems like a relatively sportsmanlike gesture, at its heart, the water bottle chug is actually a solid bit of passive aggressive posturing. It’s the goalie’s way of saying “So what, you scored, who even cares. I’m more interested in my tasty beverage.”
Fun historical note: The Flyers were the first team to introduce water bottles on top of the net, back during the 1985 Stanley Cup Final. In response, the Oilers threatened to boycott the series, and Glen Sather suggested putting hamburgers on the nets in case the goalies got hungry.
Honorable Mention: The Puck Fish-out
Another classic. It's 50 per cent helpful, and 50 per cent "get this stupid thing away from me." Bonus point if the goalie wings the puck all the way down the ice, into the stands, or directly at the other team's celebration pile.
9. The Corner Skate
Almost as common as the water bottle chug, the Corner Skate is the default move of choice for the more active goaltender. It goes something like this:
1. Skate purposefully towards a corner.
2. Arrive at corner; pivot confidently.
3. Watch the inevitable fan flip out and start two-fisting the glass because they realize they might be on TV.
4. Realize you’re not actually sure what to do next; wander around aimlessly for a few seconds like someone who just stumbled into the wrong restroom.
5. Sheepishly retreat to the net and execute the Water Bottle Chug.
By the way, the corner can be to the left or the right but it’s always in the goalie’s own end. I’d like to see a guy mix it up and start corner-skating into the other team’s zone after every goal, just to confuse people. This feels like something Dominik Hasek would have done if he'd ever given up a goal.
Honorable Mention: The Post Tap
This is another one that just about every goaltender has mastered and involves an intricate series of behind-the-back taps to his posts and crossbars. It’s the goalie’s way of informing his best friends that he forgives them, even though they’ve just utterly failed him. There’s at least a 90 per cent chance that he’s also talking to them, by the way. Hell, he probably has names for them. “Chin up, Posty. We’ll get ‘em next time, Big Red.”
The Post Tap is often executed in combination with the Water Bottle Chug. Sometimes the water comes first. Sometimes it’s the posts. Sometimes a goalie will go back and forth between the two and get caught in an endless loop that only ends when the trainer comes out and hits CTRL+ALT+DEL to reset them. Goalies are weird.