IceCaps netminder seeing and stopping a ton of rubber
St. John’s IceCaps netminder Eddie Pasquale has faced an average of 34.5 shots per game thus far in the playoffs. But both he and head coach Keith McCambridge feel seeing a lot of rubber come his way helps keep him sharp and in the game. — Telegram file photo
Eddie Pasquale has been a busy boy the last couple of weeks and he wouldn't have it any other way.
This spring, through six American Hockey League post-season starts, the St. John's IceCaps goaltender has faced 206 shots, far more than any of his Calder Cup playoff contemporaries. Cameron Talbot of the Connecticut Whale is next on the list; Talbot's had 163 shots sent his way.
Pasquale isn't complaining about the workload.
"I don't mind. It may look like a lot of work, but it's not as much you think," said Pasquale Thursday before travelling to Pennsylvania, where the IceCaps face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 3 of the AHL Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday night. The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1, with the next three games in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
"The big difference is that the guys in front of me have been doing a great job at limiting the second opportunities."
Still, that mean's Pasquale has been dealing with a lot of first chances by opposing shooters. A straw poll of players, coaches and playoff observers Thursday found that 25 to 28 shots against would stand as a reasonable allowance per game; Pasquale's faced an average of 34.5 to this point.
However, those polled also seem to agree there is no need to fret about those numbers, since they haven't translated into an inordinate amount of scoring chances for the IceCaps' opposition,
"He's faced a lot of shots, but the playoff mentality for most teams is to get as many pucks to the net as possible, with traffic," said St. John's head coach Keith McCambridge.
"We've seen that from the Penguins and that certainly was the case (in the four-game first round series) against Syracuse. Whether they had a direct shot or not, they were trying to get the puck to the net.
"So there's no concern about fatigue from the amount of shots Eddie's faced."
In fact, both coach and Pasquale feel it's easier for a goalie find and maintain a rhythm with a steady beat of rubber.
"You can concerned about him not getting enough shots and becoming cold," said McCambridge. "Then maybe the first one in a long time comes at the end of a close game and you find you're on the wrong side of it."
Pasquale does agree that the busier schedule of playoff time could be draining, but that it's countered by the extra energy players generate during the rush of post-season and some practical adjustments.
"I'm drinking a lot more liquid, because the buildings seems to be a lot warmer than normal," said the goalie. "Practices are a lot shorter and there are more optionals, but it's also just knowing that it's the playoffs and you can't afford to be tired."
And even if he was, don't expect the 21-year-old to make much of it.
"No, I'd keep that to myself, he said.
After the Penguins' 3-1 win in Game 2 of the series Wednesday night in St. John's, Pasquale's save percentage sits at .932, fourth-best in the playoffs. His goals-against average his 2.32. By comparison, the Penguins' Brad Thiessen has a GAA of 2.14, but a save percentage of .906.
"I guess you can look at it that we're trying to outplay each other, but really it's just a matter of concentrating on what I need to do, what I have to do," said Pasquale "How that compares to the other guy, you can decide.
"I've been looking at the NHL guys and what they do and I know I can't give up three goals in a game."
When it was suggested he could be too hard on himself, Pasquale shook his head.
"Not now, not in the playoffs, when every save is big and every goal is huge. If I don't give up two of those goals in the last game, we have a chance to win.
"That's the only way I can look at it. That's only number that really matters."
Eddie Pasquale can't help but hear St. John's IceCaps fan chanting his name during the playoffs, but the IceCaps' goalie hopes they understand if he doesn't acknowledge it in games.
"It could rally the other team, so I don't do that, but it is nice to hear," said Pasquale, who has regularly been serenaded with "Eddie! Eddie!" in four playoff home games.
"They've been pretty loud an they've been pretty good to us and really good to me."
The Mile One faithful offered an amended version of the chant early in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, with a chorus of "Eddie's better!" obviously meant for the ears of Penguins' netminder Brad Thiessen.
"Heard that one too," said Pasquale.
"They were getting creative there."