On Shutouts, Confidence, and Women's Tennis

Hello, BSH. Nice to see you. Been a while.

Where have I been, you were not wondering? I've been writing about tennis (new favorite sport of both Mike Richards and JVR, mind you), trying not to remember that only one of the aforementioned players is still a Flyer.

But all the tennis did get me thinking about hockey. Bare with me for a second here.

As you probably know, the most important tournaments in tennis are the Grand Slams. Players are defined by if they have won one or not, and if so how many. There's been a trend in women's tennis lately of players rising to the No. 1 ranking without having won a Grand Slam title. The slamless No. 1s then face enormous criticism for their perceived failure, and start losing matches they have no business losing, often in spectacular fashion.

As I see it, there are parallels to be drawn between this phenomenon and what happened with the Flyers goaltending last year. Despite some 82 opportunities to do so, no Flyer goalie could record a single shutout in the 2010-11 season. This lack of dominance and inability to break through even once caused stress, stress which caused spectacular implosions in the post-season. If a Brian Boucher or Sergei Bobrovsky had come into the playoffs with a shutout or two under his belt, he well could have been a far more confident player under pressure.

Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers' new savior, recorded seven shutouts last season. Another shutout this year, especially early on, would do a lot to instill confidence in both him and his teammates.

And because I don't know any other way to end posts, how's about a poll?

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