Lets first look at Osgood. who has been a solid backup or #1 man on strong defensive teams. He has never been considered one of the elite goalies in the league, usually staying under the radar in the middle of the pack, always doing a decent job. He has never been given a lot of respect.
Osgood has been phenomenal this season, even playing behind the awesome 'D' in Detroit, he's been rock solid and has league leading numbers to back it up. The thing that is most impressive to me is that Osgood has reinvented himself by completely changing his style. This is no small feat, especially at 36 years of age.
At our schools we often suggest that students need to incorporate some additional 'tools' (read - skills, new saves, etc.) into their game. This is usually met with resistance, especially from the teenaged goalies, who think they know more than they do.
Osgood has redefined his game by becoming a very good butterfly goalie. Something he was NOT. He has also become so solid positionally that he has been able to extend his career. He was never overly flashy, but his game is now very positional, square to the puck and let the puck come to him - awesome to watch, really.
His butterfly game is now up there with the best, again this is phenomenal for a man who didn't play this way until this point in his career. He is obviously a man dedicated to continual improvement and open to suggestions from his coaches. I will use Osgood as my role model when trying to convince young goalies that they CAN change, with some effort and dedication.
Hats off to Chris Osgood for his determination and dedication...now if he'd just get a real mask, he might get the recognition he deserves.
Marc-Andre Fluery came into the NHL touted as a 'franchise goalie'. His dramatic and flamboyant style won some fans over and his bright yellow pads made him noticeable. Flurey had enormous talent, but it needed to be harnessed, and he needed sound goalie coaching to make him an NHL star.
If you saw him play in his Junior days or at the start of his NHL career, it is so obvious that he has all the talent in the world, but he overplayed almost everything, sliding past the net on lateral plays and often making saves that looked fantastic and required huge skill, but were a result of his overplaying the initial shot.
The Penguins did exactly the right things with Flurey; they sent him to the minors and coached him to be a solid pro, not a flashy star Junior goalie. This took 3 YEARS!! So when students tell me they can't change, it is frustrating, because anyone can change and improve, if they are willing.
Two years ago when (owner of the Penguins) Mario Lemieux's brother, Alain worked for us, during the summer I mentioned what I saw as Fluery's downfall, we had a long discussion and he said that Gilles Meloche (the Goalie Coach for the Penguins) was working hard to help Flurey understand that he had to change his style to be a pro.
Now when you watch Flurey, he is efficient and usually plays the game in a much smaller area. Gone are the big lateral slides and most of the problems he had coming out of Junior. Flurey is still an amazing goalie with enormous talent, the difference now is that he understands that no matter what level you play at, the better the players, the better you have to be and you must be willing to change or adapt your style to suit the level you are at.
Flurey has matured and recognized what he had to do to be a solid NHL goalie. The final step in his maturity was the changing of his pads from bright yellow to white. He wore the yellow in Junior and he liked the look, I would suspect he liked the attention they drew as well, but this season his gear became a more sedate white with gold and his play improved yet again. Stats proved that goalies with white gear had better stats, so he made the change. This was true maturity on his part.
Flashy goalies are seldom great goalies, that is not to say that great goalies don't make flashy saves, but you'll see them a lot less if the goalie is sound positionally and understands that efficient is better then flashy. You'll always get opportunities to make the 'big' save and it'll be flashy because it has to be, not because you were out of position or trying to look good.
Osgood and Flurey have both changed their styles to better suit the game as it is at their level. Both have made dramatic changes to their 'toolbox' of saves and both are now much better because they were willing to learn, adjust and alter what they did in the past.
If there was a most improved award for goalies in the NHL, both of these man would get my vote, but I guess being in the Stanley Cup finals against each other is certainly a reward for their efforts and one WILL be taking home the Cup as his ultimate reward.