Thursday, November 16, 2006


Two too many? Bah!

**Darren Eliot has a piece up at about goaltending workloads. What caught my attention was the sub-hed on the main page: Teams want two top-notch goalies, but one workhorse is still the way to go.

Even relatively new readers of this site will know that this is not the way I see the world, but both sides of the argument are somewhat non-disprovable (in large part because of the fact that the success of either strategy is highly correlated to the talent & performance of a given team's personnel). As such, I'm open to persuasion, but I'd say Eliot fails to make the case.

The distinction he draws between Montreal (a "real" platoon) and BUF/ANA/SJS ("not", since either goalie is inevitable trade bait) seems arbitrary and/or meaningless. But more to the point, Eliot does not consider the difference between a 60-65 game #1 Goalie and a guy who starts virtually every game -- and this is where my questions lie.

Just going quickly through a few numbers, I can't find any recent goalies not named Martin Brodeur who started more than 65 games AND reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Belfour only started 3/4 of the Stars' games. Patrick Roy played between 61 and 65 games in every single one of his years with the Avalanche; in his Cup years with the Habs it was fewer than that. Ward, Roloson, Khabibulin, Kipper, Giguere, Hasek (x2 teams), Irbe -- none of them played more than 65 regular season games. The only exception (besides Brodeur) I'm sure of without going deeper into it was Grant Fuhr with the 87/88 Oilers; he played 75 games and they won the Cup (and it might be appropriate to note here that he got a lot of days off in the postseason, as the Oil won the Cup in a near-minimum 18-1/2 games).

I see the problem from the coach's perspective. You try to take things one game at a time, and starting your best goalie is always going to give you the best chance to win that game. But I'm going to maintain until proven otherwise (by someone other than the Devils) that it's somewhere between wise and critical to (A) have a backup capable of starting 25% of your games, and (B) suck it up and throw him out there.

FYI Postscript: so far this season, the Wild, Canucks, Flames, and Devils have started their #1 in all but one game.

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