Much Ado About Goaltending
If we’re all in agreement this season is considered “Stanley Cup or Bust” for the Blackhawks, then I can forget about discussing anything in between.
Playoffs? Expected. Division title? Well, at least home-ice advantage, or the fan base expects doom.
It’s a part of living within a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society. Winning streaks mean championships, and losing streaks mean fire sales. You’ll have to look fast to find the in between, especially with the come-as-you-are outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Lately, the cries have been about the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, and how the Blackhawks stand no chance to advance in the postseason unless changes are made – no matter how drastic.
If you’ve yet to recognize a trend in the Stan Bowman era, goaltending is not his top priority. And there’s a couple justified reasons for that.
Dale Tallon did his best to put the Blackhawks back into contention, and he thought putting money between the pipes was the answer. He gave Nikolai Khabibulin a four-year, $27 million contract in 2005, then inked Cristobal Huet to a four-year, $22.5 million deal in 2008. Neither seemed to pan out.
Bowman took over, and Antti Niemi - a previously unknown – ends up being in net for the Blackhawks’ first Stanley Cup since 1961. When Niemi wanted to get paid, he went back on the cheap side with Marty Turco. And when he didn’t pan out, Crawford was the guy. His three-year, $8 million contract is modest at best.
If you’re thinking Bowman is going to go out and make a deal for a high-priced goaltender and give up a top prospect or current NHL contributor in the process, you better think again. It’s pretty understood Bowman has his ways, and goaltending won’t be something he’s suddenly going to freak out about.
Granted, Crawford hasn’t done himself any favors amongst those calling for his head. His 2.97 goals-against average is pretty terrible, and his .900 save percentage doesn’t scream reliability. He allowed a weak goal to Taylor Hall against Edmonton the other night that completely changed the momentum. He’s not perfect, by any means.
In fact, all of us can point to bad goals from him and Emery and use them as ammo or a deal. I can bet, though, many of those who are reading this and cringing aren’t thinking about the tough saves they made as well. It would be too hard to defend their point if they did.
The thing is, people also have wanted Crawford anywhere but Chicago during other points of the season when it’s not exactly deserved.
For instance, during the Blackhawks have scored two goals or less in four games during their current 0-4-1 stretch. The New York Rangers have the best goaltending in the league in terms of save percentage, and even they are 5-12-3 when scoring that few goals. Boston? 6-13-2. Detroit? 6-14-1.
Yes, you’re right, the Blackhawks are worse than that at 3-14-4, but not by much.
Those complaining the Blackhawks are going to have to win high-scoring contests shouldn’t be complaining against something that’s normal. Every goaltender in this league needs support from his offense. Little offense means fewer victories.
On Jan. 20, 2010, when I was still writing for Blackhawk Up, I put together a post detailing the previous Stanley Cup winners and their rank in goaltending in terms of save percentage. Since then, Boston became the first team to win a Cup while leading the league in overall save percentage in the time frame listed. The ‘Hawks won the Cup finishing 24th in 2009-10.
If Bowman’s trend since taking over as GM isn’t enough proof for you, these trends throughout the NHL should at least help in making an educated guess that the ‘Hawks are going to ride out this ship with Crawford and Emery. Hopefully I just saved you a lot of breaths and wasted typing by campaigning for Bowman to make a trade involving another goaltender.
If you’re looking for something to complain about in regards to this losing streak, stick to the power play that has gone 1 for 12 during the skid. Or the fact Marian Hossa doesn’t have a point in the last three games.
There are plenty of stats as well lending to the fact the ‘Hawks need to be better defensively, but I’m not discussing that right now. Simply, I wanted to address those who believe Bowman should for will make a deal or a goaltender. It won’t happen, so get over it now.
Like it or not, this team is going to have to score a bunch of goals to succeed, and despite their recent slump, the Blackhawks still lead the Western Conference in that category. The more I think about it, Bowman likely isn’t going to sacrifice a prospect or solid NHL talent for a high-scoring forward, either. Certain pieces need to be added offensively, but likely not in the mold of a goal-scoring-focused addition.
The main point is this – stop calling for drastic changes between the pipes. If it makes you feel better, great. Go nuts. However, you’re wasting your breath. Again, Bowman is going forward with Crawford and Emery baring injury. That’s just the way it is.
Hopefully, for the sake of your fingertips while on your social media accounts, it works out. And if it doesn’t? I wouldn’t immediately start whining about the goaltending. It likely won’t be the first thing deserving blame.
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|Print article||This entry was posted by Bartl on February 6, 2012 at 12:37 am, and is filed under 2011-12 Regular Season. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|