If you read nothing but the Denver Post, the Hockey News, or most other traditional hockey media outlets, you'd think Peter Budaj was the worst starting goaltender in the entire National Hockey League. Ever. Even though Avalanche blogs like this one have been carefully documenting his strengths, his past successes and pointing out the ridiculously harmful experience he endured under former coach Joel Quenneville, Budaj has been goalie non grata for a couple of months now.
His 0-3 record to start the season didn't help much.
But since he got a couple of games off to collect himself and adjust his play, gotten a few bounces to go his way, and enjoyed a more solid defense in front of him, he's returned to the form many of us knew he had all along. He's gone 3-0, put up a goals against average of 1.62 and a save percentage of .941. The NHL named him the second star of the week, sparking comments like this on the Denver Post site:
Gotta give Boods credit, there probably wasn't a person in Avalanche Country who believed in this guy...including the locker room. Hopefully he can keep it up for about 60 more games!
I've also received emails from journalists and other hockey big wigs (yes, I get emails from "important" people much to my surprise) expressing shock and amazement at Budaj's recent strong performances. My response to them: it was only a surprise to people who didn't pay attention.
Peter Budaj's stock is improving. He's got a long way to go to change many people's minds (for some, anything less than the Vezina won't be enough), but so far he's doing pretty well. If his defense can keep it together, and he stays loose, he'll be fine. No doubt in my mind. I don't buy the idea that Tony Granato or his Avalanche teammates ever lost confidence in him (especially for three one-goal losses), and I can't foresee a scenario in which they ever would. Well, a scenario that doesn't involve a massive meltdown of some sort, of course.
I still believe in Peter Budaj.