Welcome to the second Black Shoe Diaries hockey oval-table discussion. Once again we have assembled some the greatest hockey minds in the BSD community, if not the entire world. Max Moorhead (Big Maple), Craig Shifflett (Chester Studmuffin), Dillon Farrell (Farrell141) and Chris Kaminski (Kingkub) have taken chairs around the table. Rounding out the oval-table discussion along with myself is a very special secret guest.
Due to contractual obligations our guest will be using a pseudonym and will wear a disguise as you can see in the picture at the bottom of this article. For the purposes of this discussion our guest will be referred to as 'Rad Thibodeaux'. The last name is pronounced Tib-oh-day-oh.
Chime in with your thoughts on the three topics of discussion in the comment thread.
If anyone wants to know how drums are supposed to be played, check out the music video right around the one minute and seven minute mark. That should point you in the right direction.
The current goalie situation is up in the air. What are your thoughts on the trio moving forward?
Chris Kaminski- If you have three goalies you don't have one. Goal-tending is about confidence. The goalie needs to believe that they are going to make all the saves that they are supposed to make and all of the ones they aren't supposed to make. Guy Gadowsky road Skoff while he was hot and when he stumbled in came McAdam until he lost his way. Now he is riding Musico who will inevitably stumble. By then GG has to hope that Skoff and McAdam have regained their confidence.
Max- Play the hot hand. No disrespect to PJ Musico, but he is the least technically sound of the three. Still PJ is winning, so I have no idea what to make of the goalie situation. One thing is clear, the guys out front seem to have confidence in whoever is between the pipes, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Dillon- I would go with the hot hand right now and then settle on a starter before the Big Ten tournament. It would be detrimental to shuffle goalies during the post-season so it would be best to pick one guy and go with it. My guess is that the starter will end up being McAdam or Skoff. Whomever it ends up being should be given the full time role without fear of being benched at the first sign of trouble.
Craig- Like Chris Kaminski was saying, if you have two qb's you don't have any qb's. If you have three goalies, do you have a goalie? I want Guy Gadowsky to buy my lottery tickets because he is making all of the right calls lately. Guy spent the year mostly in a platoon situation at goalie but then has relied heavily on a third goalie. Then that 3rd stringer comes in and goes 4-0-1 while winning two weekend series. I really can't say enough about Musico. He stayed ready for his chances and made the most of them. He isn't all grace and elegance back there but he sure makes it exciting, flops and all.
Chris Taylor- It's been nice to watch Musico play well for the past few weeks. The senior net-minder was mostly an after-thought in the rotation when McAdam and Skoff were in a groove. The pair got all sorts of media attention a few weeks ago and then their play suffered. Skoff and McAdam each let in a couple easy goals during the Northern Michigan series on plays that seemed like all that was lacking was focus. I'm hoping that the time away from the ice has helped the benched goalies regain their focus. I see this as Musico buying time for the other goalies to get their heads right. Once Musico is pulled or another goalie enters with the start, I expect that goalie to be the starter for the rest of the year. I'd bank on Skoff being that guy.
Rad-Alright alright alright. Did anyone bring a puck? You'd be cooler if you did. I've been watching this group of goalies, right. They all have a little sexy in them. Skoff has the stare. Eamon is the classic Zeus, a man who could carry a team, or the planet. Musico. He's like just banging the bongos. He's like, BOOM BOOM BOOM, right. It's hard for me to pick a goalie at this point. Musico has saved the season. Skoff is our best option. McAdam has the most upside. I'd hate to take the torch from Musico without cause, but maybe that is the best way to do it. Just start Skoff before Musico gets a loss. I really don't know. I guess when I think about the idea of having any of the three goalies in net my overall opinion is that we are alright no matter what. Musico. Skoff. McAdam. Alright alright alright.
How has Casey Bailey's season impacted the program in your opinion?
Max- Bailey has been great but to me his play is indicative of the entire team's performance. We saw that he was a potent player last season but his emergence this season completely coincides with the success of the whole team. I think it's a testament of what type of program coach Guy is building. Trust in your teammate, buy into the concept, work together and good things will come.
Chris Kaminski- Last season it seemed that the team was really struggling to find an identity. It needed the timely goal but didn't know who to put on the ice to get it. GG identified Casey as a player who needed to take his game to the next level. Coach asked him to work harder in the off-season and Bailey responded by working out like an animal this summer. It's hard to see on television but if you watch Bailey the entire time he is on the ice, he is looking for a soft spot on the ice where he can fire the howitzer. He sometimes will float in the slot or to the front of the net, getting ready to tee up a one-timer. He joins the play in the corner, works hard off the puck, but if the other team loses sight of him, he will make them pay.
Chris Taylor- The 'chipotline' as it has been named has been a game-changer for the Lions. Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey. Bailey's success this year has allowed his line-mates to settle into their comfort zone. Goodwin is an all-around player who can do a little of everything. He has been playing off Bailey and Holstrom perfectly. Sometimes he picks up the trash left after a pass from Holstrom to Bailey and a Bailey smash-shot rebound. Holstrom has become one of the best set-up men in the country. Every set-up man needs a goal-scorer and every goal-scorer needs someone who is looking to get him the puck. In the past few weeks the second line has really started to gel. I credit part of this to the fact that the first line is taking so much pressure off the rest of the team. Bailey has been the catalyst. I think Bailey's scoring is a result of the team's success but he is a great talent. His shot is one of the best in college hockey. It's heavy and he shoots so much it has to be scary for the opposing goalie.
Dillon- Casey Bailey is the straw that stirs the drink. His development has helped this program tremendously as a whole. Unfortunately top NHL prospect Jack Eichel is probably the favorite to take home the Hobey Baker Award, but nonetheless Bailey has had an amazing season and will continue to guide PSU hockey to greater heights.
Rad-Let me tell you this. The older you do get the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin' man. L-I-V-I-N. Right now Casey is livin the college hockey dream, right. He needs to go with it and let it all hang out. My friend Mike, he's a pretty magical dancer in Tampa, Florida, says this all the time. Just hang it out there and let whatever happens happen. You know, I ain't no detective or nothing, right. My skills may be a little rusty, but you gotta let her fly when you got the shot. The opposing goalie wakes up in the middle of the night and usually he would roll back over and get a good night's rest. But Casey's shot costs the goalie an hour of sleep before he finally is back to full REM sleep. That's not nothing, right. Opposing goalies find their thoughts drifting from the conscious fears of Casey Bailey to the thoughts of Freddy Krueger, and they force their eyelids shut and take on Freddy.
Craig- I think PSU would have gained recognition this year with or without Bailey's play. The team is playing well in a tough conference and also has had good non-conference wins. The big scorer helps to put a face on the team. Every good team seems to have 'that guy', someone who is the leader of the team. For people who think Penn State is winning with smoke and mirrors, the team can point to Bailey and say, 'We have one of the top goal-scorers in the country.' That's nice for the team to have that. From a fan's standpoint it's great to have a guy on the team that can score every time he's on the ice.
The Lions are 10-1-3 at home this season with the only loss coming with less than one minute left on overtime to OSU. What impact has the home stadium had on the team and what are some of your favorite parts of the Peg's atmosphere?
Craig- Pegula Ice Arena is beautiful, amazing, and a lot of other things. One thing it is not, yet, is overly intimidating. When the place is rocking, it can get very loud, much like the Beaver Stadium crowd. At this point there seems to still be a lot of lulls in the crowd's participation. The students are still learning when to cheer at a hockey game. The students have started to add some things on their own. The Badger sign on Friday was awesome. I have been watching a lot more college hockey these past two years and there are barns that are a non-stop noise start to finish. I'd like to see the team take Pegula from being a tough place to play, which it is now, to being a scary place to play.
Dillon- One thing that is certain is that a stadium's size does not necessarily coincide with the level of noise that will be there during a game. Michigan Stadium is an example of a big stadium that was built in a way that does not amplify crowd noise. Autzen Stadium in Oregon is the opposite. It's a small football stadium that is deafening due to proper acoustic engineering and architecture. The Peg was built similarly to Autzen. The arena is very loud and the noise is amplified. The concourse is also very well constructed. Overall it's a beautiful facility. With time a true hockey crowd will develop with unique hockey chants as hockey-focused schools tend to have. At the moment it's still more of a novelty crowd where some are just attending the game for something to do. As time goes on a group of die-hard fans unique to hockey will develop.
Max- I like the Roar Zone best. It's loud, steep, and the wall of students has to be intimidating to the opposing team. I know first hand having played hockey at Princeton, as much as you don't want to hear the stuff people are yelling at you, most of the time you do. It's a beautiful arena and I think the team takes great pride in their home and it shows in their play. With all the exciting comebacks the team has had at home, a ticket for a game at Pegula might be the best value for your money in all of B1G sports right now.
Chris Kaminski- The Peg is a fantastic arena. It still has that new car smell and as a season ticket holder, I see first time visitors at every game. The students have a lot of chants that have migrated from Greenburg, the former home ice for the team. One thing I miss is the fans used to sit reading the newspaper while the visiting team was introduced. That has been replaced with a chant of 'sucks' after the player's name is announced. The 'It's all your fault' chant toward the visiting goalie is loud and has got to bother the goalie. I'd also like to hear less dance music and more organ music, but that's just my taste. Last Friday during the fan-cam segment a little girl of about ten years of age held up a sign that said it was her birthday. The students sung 'happy birthday' to her, that was really cool. It's also nice to see hockey dignitaries floating around the arena and when you hear the comments about them being impressed with the building it really means a lot. The timing of the games, mostly on Friday and Saturday nights, makes it easier to fill the building. It's really hard to fill the 15,000 seat BJC on a Wednesday night against a mid-tier B1G team.
Chris Taylor- The stadium is amazing and the atmosphere is great. The fans have come a long way in just under two years in terms of understanding the game of hockey. At the beginning of last season few fans would cheer when PSU would clear the puck on a penalty kill or in situations where hockey knowledge is required. They mostly cheered when prompted or after the team scored. This year the fans have begun to understand when the team needs a lift. It's impossible to overlook the team's record at home. Clearly there is an advantage. My favorite part of the Peg as a fan is the family atmosphere. It gets loud, it gets heated, but for the most part it is a G-rated celebration. Young fans that attend the game must feel very comfortable. It's a great place to teach kids the appropriate way to cheer on the home team.
Rad- The best part of the atmosphere at the Peg is the student section. The enthusiasm that the students bring is hard to manufacture or duplicate, right. So to me it's like all about the students. They bring an energy that is hard to describe. That's what I love about the Roar Zone, man. I get older, they stay the same age.