124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Real Deal

Devils goalie MacKenzie Blackwood recorded the actual “save of the year” on Sunday night

The “save of the year” thing is completely out of control. It seems like anytime an NHL goalie makes a glove save, “sAvE oF ThE yEAr?!” is plastered all over Twitter a few minutes later. But not all good saves are created equal, nor do all great saves deserve the mantle of the year’s best. To have a true “save of the year” candidate you need the absurd physicality, yes. But you also need a high leverage moment and preferably a touch of absurdity—a ricochet, a long-protracted review, the opposing forwards wheeling away like they just scored only to have their celebrations turn to disbelief. That’s what makes a highlight reel save transcend the highlight reel. That’s what separates a regular 'ol save from a genuine “save of the year,” and on Sunday night, MacKenzie Blackwood logged exactly that. Behold.

First of all the context: 8.6 seconds remaining, playing a vastly better team on the road, trying to preserve the shutout. Then you have the absurdity—in this case a replay review that came down to literal millimeters.

All the ingredients are in place, but take nothing away from Blackwood, because the save, even in a vacuum, is pure, hip-dislocating genius—Hasek-esque, if we may be sol bold. Even in slow motion, as the puck bounces toward the open net, it seems like a certain goal. It seems like Blackwood is only going to be able to sit there and watch as he’s cruelly robbed of his shutout. But then he plants his left skate, thrusts his right leg desperately toward the puck, and, nearly splitting himself in half, makes the honest-to-goodness, undisputed save of the year.

Yeah, that’s right. We said it.