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Can He Get a Booyah? (01/13/04) --Brian Boucher. Can I get a booyah? Apparently not.
The NHL, underappreciated in nearly every facet of its existence, really got screwed in the past week. And even more specifically then the NHL, Brian Boucher is the one who was done the disservice by the national sports media. For those of you unaware, and Iím sure there are definitely some of you out there, Boucher went on an unbelievable streak that likely will not be matched for a very long time. For five straight games he shut out the opposition. That equated to five hours, thirty two minutes, and one second of game time where the other team didnít score on him.
Thatís right, over five hours of shutout hockey.
What did we get from Sportscenter, the newspapers, and pretty much anything not specifically devoted to covering hockey? Nothing. Perhaps the lack of coverage helped fuel the streak by keeping it out of the limelight, but this is ridiculous. I was beside myself when I discovered this was going on, four games into his streak, and hadnít heard a word about it. This is one of the most amazing runs that any athlete in any sport has had in recent memory. And nobody even so much as batted an eyelash over whether or not it should be mentioned.
ESPN, I donít care if Stephon Marbury got his individualistic, team-wrecking butt traded to the terrible New York Knicks. I couldnít care less if Kobe Bryant is suffering some emotional duress from his sexual escapades. I donít WANT to see any features on Rasheed Wallace and who will CTC for him. I want to see real sports news. And in this case, you didn't deliver.
Now that my rant is complete, I want to try and put into perspective just how amazing this run was. The first game of the streak was at home against Los Angeles. But the following four shutouts occurred on the road, two of which were against playoff teams from last year (Dallas and Minnesota.) The fact that he could deliver four straight road shutouts is beyond remarkable in itself. I canít even try to equate this to the other sports. I guess this is the equivalent of Steve Nash getting his hair cut and not looking like a girl for four straight games. Thatís somewhere in the ballpark.
Now letís add in the fact that he plays for Phoenix. Despite their improvement in uniform choices, from a picture of those Dimension X soldiers on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the animal that is their name, the team still isnít that great.
Barry Melrose, ESPNís loveable greaseball analyst, summed it up well when he compared Boucherís streak to Orel Hershiserís run of 59 scoreless innings in a row. To both Barry and to me, what Boucher did was more impressive. As a starting pitcher, Hershiser had four days off at least between each start in which to rest up. Recording shutouts in baseball is also easier in the fact that the other eight players can give you a lot more help in preventing runs than the other five players can in preventing goals. Sure, they can keep it out of the zone, but once the shot is heading towards the net, itís all on the goalieís shoulders.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that fluky goals happen all the time. A pass deflects off a skate, a shot caroms off a jersey, Tony Twist scores a goal, these bizarre anomalies happen all the time. In baseball, the only thing that can happen in that manner is a homerun and if such an event does occur, itís the pitcherís fault more often than not. Goalies are victimized by flukes all the time and the fact that it didnít happen until the sixth game of the streak (A redirected shot that was the only goal of the game for Atlanta) is remarkable.
So give the man his due. Brian Boucher, chased out of Philadelphia in favor of a guy with a municipal adjective for a first name, has now landed on his feet. And on top of that, he doesnít have to wear those horrible uniforms either. Apparently life isnít too bad in the Valley of the Sun. Now back to your regularly scheduled NBA naptime.