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BLOCKING SHOTS IN THE NHL: COURAGEOUS OR THE CAUSE OF UNECCESARY INJURY?

You often hear announcers comment on the courage of players going down to block shots in the NHL.  I guess the question should be is it worth risking injury to stop a shot that the goaltender is fully equipped to stop?  Players today are expected to block shots by their coaches and teammates alike.  The risk of injury from blocking shots is real.  Just look at forward Jaden Schwartz from the St. Louis Blues.  Earlier this season he broke his ankle blocking a shot and missed 6 weeks.  Schwartz is a key offensive player and him missing 6 weeks really hurt the Blues.  Was Schwartz preventing his goaltender from making a single save worth 6 weeks on injured reserve?  Probably not.

Goaltending equipment is more or less designed to protect goaltenders from the hardest of shots.  The basic protective equipment of forwards or defensemen are not intended to take the brunt of hard shots.  The equipment of forwards and defensemen have gaps to allow for mobility.  Players have such hard shots in today’s game, sometimes a goaltenders equipment isn’t enough to prevent injury.  Players won’t stop blocking shots but they might be a little more selective when taking into consideration the risk of serious injury.