May 7, 2014
TORONTO– Drew MacIntyre gets paid to block pucks—and he has no issue with his teammates wanting to do the same.
Shot blocking is a big part of hockey and despite it being the goaltender’s number-one job, MacIntyre believes without the players in front of him joining in a lot more pucks would find their way past him into the net. For the 31-year-old, it’s all about the odds.
“I’ll never complain,” said MacIntyre. “For every ten blocked shots, one might go in and if (the player) was out of the way I might have stopped it. But you play the percentages.
“(The) majority of the blocked shots you didn’t see them so you hope they block them.”
MacIntyre also believes that just like a fight or a big hit, blocking shots can pick up his team mentally.
“It’s inspiring to me and inspiring to everybody. I know it picks everybody up,” said MacIntyre. “It’s admirable to see guys who throw their bodies in front of (the puck).”
This season the Marlies prided themselves on being a “blue-collar team” and putting bodies in front of pucks was a regular routine to live by if you wanted to stay in the lineup.
Forward Kenny Ryan, who battled with healthy scratches early in the year, managed to get himself into the everyday lineup midway through the year because of his work on the penalty kill, which included tossing his body in front of everything possible. His efforts were most noticeable in the first-round series sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals.
“Kenny Ryan blocking shots like he was, guys just doing everything, it was awesome,” said MacIntyre. “I’ve been lucky in my career to have guys like that.”
The Marlies penalty kill this season was 11th in the AHL at 83.2 per cent. In their series against the Admirals they increased their efficiency to 93.3 per cent, allowing just one goal on 15 Milwaukee power-play opportunites.
“If we didn’t block shots the way we do on the penalty kill I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as good,” said MacIntyre “Our guys do anything to block a shot so it’s huge, they’re the biggest reason why our penalty kill’s good.
“For them to block shots, it’s so huge because there’s so much traffic.”
Along with the penalty kill, Toronto’s five-man unit played a large role in the club’s success against the Admirals because of how many quality scoring chances they limited on MacIntyre. While the Charlottetown native faced an average of 29.3 shots against per game, very few of those were considered difficult by his standards.
“I don’t think we allowed one 2-on-1 all game,” MacIntyre highlighted after Game 3.
MacIntyre finished the first round with a 1.33 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. In the regular season he set a new franchise record for wins by going 29-15-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.