It’s goalies, more goalies and only goalies. Between the Pipes is back for its 12th year, and is poised to please fans of old school ‘tenders, current players and NHL hopefuls. A box contains 18 pack, and each pack has nine cards. Here’s what I got in my recent box break.
136 base cards
The first 23 cards are of current NHL goalies. The photos used are either taken from above or from behind. This obscures the team logo, which In The Game cannot show. But that doesn’t matter because the pictures are action-oriented, and generally better than the typical Net Cam cards found in Panini sets.
The next 57 cards are of Canadian Hockey League (OHL, WHL and QMJHL) goalies. I would have preferred less prospects, as this makes the set feel a bit too much like Heroes and Prospects. I rather have more cards of players I grew up with. These cards use action photos from the front.
The use of overhead or “net cam” action, front action and close up/portraits give Between The Pipes a nice variety of photos.
2 “Goaliegraph” autographed cards
Former NHLer Martin Prusek and junior leaguer Michael Gugovaz were the two autographs that I pulled. They are “sticker-graphs,” but look good regardless because In The Game puts thought into the design of these cards. However, I wish both autographs were of former NHL goalies; it is hard to get excited about a kid who hasn’t been drafted by an NHL team.
3 Game-Used Jersey Cards
As usual, the jersey swatch cards do not disappoint — and you all know how much I usually detest these things. But ITG does nice work here. The Mike Richter jersey swatch is a little “meh,” but then again it is a jersey swatch from a Hall of Fame player. The puck mark on the swatch gives the card some character. The Marty Turco card at least uses a green swatch that goes with his Dallas uniform. Had this been an Upper Deck card, it would probably have used a red swatch from his forgettable year with the Blackhawks. The Don Beaupre card uses a two-color swatch, which always looks great.
15 Decoy / Puzzle Pieces
Ugh. These things. While decoys are a great idea because they discourage pack searching for thick jersey cards, I don’t like the fact that ITG counts these as one of the nine cards you get in a pack. The idea of making them puzzle pieces is fun, but there are at least seven different puzzles you can complete. That makes even collecting decoys a daunting task. You can also trade in 150 decoys (ten boxes’ worth) for a special card.
The Immortals insert set is about goaltenders who have passed away. The weathering and sepia tones gives these cards a vintage look. I like the fact that — at least for the three Immortals I got — the photos show the players without masks. Sure, some of the players like Mike Karakas didn’t wear a mask, but for the other players it gives us a chance to see what they really looked like.
3 Masked Men
These cards are illustrated and have a chromium metallic finish. They look great, but I wish this insert set only focused on players with NHL experience. It’s hard to get excited about chase cards of junior kids.
What I like about 2013-14 Between The Pipes: The “Greats of the Game” base cards look awesome and feature some pretty cool retired players. The chromium “Masked Men” inserts look snazzy. Love the “Immortals” (a.k.a. “Dead Goalies”) insert set. Using action shots that cleverly obscure the team logo was a great way to include current NHL ‘tenders. Despite the autographs being on stickers, you don’t really notice because the cards are well-designed.
What I dislike about 2013-14 Between The Pipes: Including 57 junior goalies in BTP seems a bit much, and makes the set a bit redundant of Heroes & Prospects. Counting the puzzle piece/decoys as one of the nine cards is bogus. “Masked Men” inserts should just stick to NHL ‘tenders, past and present, and not bothered with the junior players. Also, I wish there was a third autograph per box.
Too many cards — over 1/3 of the base set — are dedicated to junior league players. Sure, a few top prospects would be OK, but I think Between The Pipes really thrives when it focuses on the former NHL goalies. I am also so used to pulling three autographs per box in an ITG product that getting “only” two seems like a bit of a letdown — even if it isn’t. Still, the base set rocks and the jersey cards (if those are your thing) are executed nicely. The Immortals and Masked Men inserts look great.
You can purchase a box of 2013-14 Between The Pipes online at Blowout Cards, DA Card World or Steel City Sports. Note that none of these retailers endorse this website. I have bought cards from each of them in the past and all are reputable dealers.
Special thanks to In The Game Trading Cards for providing the box for this break.