Game 79 Recap: Sharks 1, Avalanche 0 (SO)



Can I take my I Believe In Budaj button out of the closet again? Very quietly, Peter Budaj has been playing much more like the Peter Budaj we thought we would see this year. In his last 10 starts, he's held the Avs' opponent to 2 goals or less 7 times. That's a good stretch for any goalie. It's a GREAT stretch for a goalie playing behind an AHL-calibre defense (to be fair, the newbies have played well, but these aren't future superstars back there).

Budaj and Evgeni Nabokov were both exceptional last night. Although both got a little help from the goal posts, neither allowed a goal after 65 minutes of play, and only 1 attempt was converted in the shootout. That attempt was by Joe Pavelski, giving the Sharks the win, but that's not really all that important. Each player was their team's best player by a considerable margin.

For Budaj, it was yet another solid effort squandared by his team's inability to score. I thought I'd look into Budaj's stats a little bit to see if I could illustrate that our goaltending is getting an unfair portion of the blame for this disaster of a season.

By my quick calculations, Budaj has held the opposing team to 2 goals or less 22 times, or about 42% of the time. He's allowed 3 goals (exactly) 16 times (30%) and 4 goals or more 15 times (28%). By comparison, I did the same thing for Nabokov. Nabby's splits were 36 / 9 / 15 or 60% / 15% / 25%. From this, it would seem that Budaj's percentage of "bad" games (4+) is about on par with his counterpart. Where Budaj falters is in not turning enough "average" games (3 goals) into "good" games (2 or less). I think that makes sense. Usually, it was just one soft goal that messed up an otherwise solid night for Budaj. Keeping better focus for 60 minutes is definitely an area that needs improvement.

Of course, it probably wouldn't mean much in the standings, because the Avalanche can't win if the Avalanche can't score. Budaj's record in the 2- games is 14-5-3. It's 2-13-0 in the 3-goal games and 4-11-0 in in the 4+ games. As a percentage, the Avalanche won 63% of the time that Budaj was good, 13% of the time when he was average and 27% of the time when Budaj was bad. How does Nabby compare? While Budaj's 14-5-3 record in good games seems decent, try this on for size: the Sharks are 34-0-2 in Nabby's good games. Yep, San Jose has not lost a single game in regulation where Nabokov has kept his opponent under 3 goals. The other numbers are comparable - 9-2-3 (22%) in average games and 5-8-2 (33%). If you put those winning percentages to Budaj's good / average/ bad split, the Avalanche have 9 more wins, just outside of the playoff bubble.

Budaj does need to tighten up his game. But, as I've been contending almost all year long, he has been much better than people think. Had the Avalanche scored goals like they were supposed to this year, Colorado would still be in the playoff hunt. Are there better goalies out there? Absolutely. But Budaj is getting the job done and too many people are not seeing that.

 

Lines

 

For some reason, I can't get the shift report to generate for this one. The lines were:

Tucker / Galiardi / Hejduk

McCormick / Wolski / Svatos

Hensick / Willsie / Stewart

McLeod / Guite / Lappy

Hannan / Vernace

Liles / Macias

Peltier / MacKenzie

 

I ended up falling asleep late, so I'm curious as to why Svatos was not out for OT or the shootout. Did he get injured?

 

Quick Hits

  • The Avs killed off all 5 PPs by the potent Sharks. I didn't see the later ones, but the Avs looked very effective in the first half of the game.
  • Colorado won just 39% of the draws. Wolski, Galiardi and Guite were all under 40%
  • Scott Hannan (32:33) and Johnny Hot Pocket (30:53) both set season highs for minutes

    Video Highlights

    Next Up

    The Avs host the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention.

    Other Recaps

    The first period was largely lifeless, with San Jose failing to get a shot until eight minutes in. The clubs combined for just five shots in the opening frame. - AP

    Both teams looked as if they were playing out the string in the first period with the Avalanche generating only three shots, one more than the Sharks, who did get their offensive instincts in gear after that but couldn't beat Colorado goalie Peter Budaj. - David Pollack, San Jose Mercury News

    "If you think I'm a quitter or you're insinuating that you should bail out when things aren't going well, you don't know a hockey player and you don't know me," he said. "That is almost an insulting question. Personally, when you're in a position and things aren't going well, if everyone bailed out, you'd have a lot of losers around this world. I'm going to fight through this the best I can and if I get the opportunity, try and turn this thing around the way we plan to." - Terry Frei, Denver Post

    For all the Avalanche's problems this season, this much can be said with certainty: Neither Colorado's patchwork lineup nor beleaguered goaltender Peter Budaj has quit. - Terry Frei, Denver Post

    I'm really liking Michael Vernace. Sure, he's had some stumbles along the way, but he looks very calm and collected out there. Late in the third, he fell on his back in front of Budaj but he got up quickly and immediately raced over to pick up a man in front. He didn't look for the puck, he looked for an open man. Hell yeah. - Shane Giroux, Avs Talk

    Lacroix, the Avalanche's president and alternate governor, will not speak to the media about future plans regarding his general manager, Francois Giguere, or coach, Tony Granato. Again, that's no surprise with the secretive French-Canadian, but his silence is a bit more deafening than usual this time. The quieter he gets, the more people are going to speculate he might replace Giguere with himself. - Adrian Dater, Denver Post


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