Monday, April 07, 2008

NBC's McGuire Needs More Proof Of Red Wings' Goaltending Chops? The Nerve Of Some Folks

Dominik Hasek has 389 career NHL victories. He has a lifetime save percentage of .922. He's won an Olympic Gold Medal, and a Stanley Cup. He is the possessor of 81 shutouts. Lord knows how many more he's had ruined in the final few minutes of games already in hand. Even today, at age 43, he's stopping pucks at a rate of .902 with a 2.14 GAA, and five shutouts.

Chris Osgood has 363 career NHL victories. He has a lifetime save percentage of .907. He's won a Stanley Cup. He is the possessor of 47 shutouts. Today, at age 35, he is stopping pucks at a rate of .914 with a 2.09 GAA, and four shutouts. He made the All-Star team, in a year in which he was supposed to be a backup who was going to play in perhaps 25% of his team's games.

For those of you not keeping score at home, that's 752 victories, 128 shutouts, two Stanley Cups, and GAAs in the low 2.00s. And some 81,000 minutes played between them.

So it makes one wonder if NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire took one too many pucks to the head while reporting on the games this season from his location at ice level, between the benches. Because McGuire went on record with this curious statement.

The Red Wings, McGuire says, "are in trouble (for the playoffs) because their goaltending is unproven this year."


Coach Mike Babcock posed something else, far less curious.

"Didn't we just win the Jennings (Trophy for least amount of goals allowed)? Ozzie's led the league in goals-against average. I don't know."

Me neither.

It's true that goaltending is still the fulcrum upon which every team's playoff chances are supported. And it's also true that bad goaltending is as much of a factor, if not more so, in a team's chances than good goaltending by the opposition is.

But come on, Pierre; unproven?

Just what IS proven, then? What do a team's netminders have to do to convince blabbermouths like McGuire that they've got the goods? If allowing the fewest amount of goals than anyone in the league isn't enough, then what is?

To give McGuire, a former coach, the benefit of the doubt here, I'm going to presume he means that, because of Hasek's injury troubles this year -- and I must reveal that Dom's save pct. this year was the lowest it's been in 15 seasons -- it's been difficult for him to get into the pre-playoff groove that Hasek prefers to be in. But that's not what he said. Regardless, I'll let Pierre slide a bit here.

Is it a legitimate concern? Goaltending is always a concern, but less so when you have the experience between the pipes that the Red Wings have. And let's not forget that the Red Wings were only a fluke goal and an ill-timed giveaway away from perhaps reaching the Cup Finals last spring -- largely because of the solid netminding that Hasek provided them.

Oh, well -- it's the eve of the playoffs, when even the mighty have to be dissected and presented to the public with possible concerns. Real or imagined.

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