Hello everyone! It seems like it has been forever since my recap of the Avs disappointing season finale against the Predators back on April 7th. I hope everyone has had a great summer so far. As for me, I've been officially out of the Navy for nearly 6 weeks now and couldn't be happier. I've settled nicely into my role as an Assistant Coach and Goaltending Coach for a Tier III Jr. A team here in Washington state. Now that we are all caught up, on to the issue at hand.
Last season was an improvement, of sorts, in a lot of areas. The team not only improved in the standings from a season ago, but they matured a little bit in the process as well. We saw a small preview of what the future holds for Rookie of the Year winner Gabriel Landeskog. We also were able to watch what I feel was the birth of a budding super star in Ryan O`Reilly.
However, even with all of that improvement, there are still a few areas that need to improve more before the Avs will be a still a serious playoff contender. You could also say that about a majority of teams in the NHL right now, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.
One area I've specifically been concerned with is the goalies. Ever since Patrick Roy retired the Avs goaltending hasn't been the same. Let's be honest, Hall of Fame goalies just don't grow on trees these days. This is not a knock on the goalies who have donned the unipron since Roy hung'em up, they just weren't Patrick Roy. Quite frankly I don't think there will be another one either.
Following the 2002-03 season, Roy's last season in the NHL, Colorado has struggled to find consistently good goaltending. To say they had a revolving door in the crease would be an understatement.
Here are the goalies who have donned the burgundy and blue, along w/ games played, since the beginning of the 2003-04 season:
2003-04: David Aebischer, 62 Games Played (GP); Phillip Sauve, 17 GP; Tommy Salo. 5 GP
2006-07: Peter Budaj, 57 GP; Jose Theodore, 33 GP.
2007-08: Jose Theodore, 53 GP; Peter Budaj, 33 GP.
2008-09: Peter Budaj, 56 GP; Andrew Raycroft, 31 GP.
2009-10: Craig Anderson, 71 GP; Peter Budaj, 15 GP.
2010-11: Peter Budaj, 45 GP; Craig Anderson, 33 GP; Brian Elliott 12 GP
See what I mean? The only mark of consistency during the last 8 seasons has been that Peter Budaj, and nothing against him, but he won't be leading any team to the Stanley Cup.
At the time, I was a very big supporter of the move to bring in Varly. To this day I still feel very strongly that he is the Avs long term answer in net. At just 24 years old his best years are still very much in front of him. My only concern is how injury prone he has been in just his short time in the NHL.
Since Colorado doesn't employ a full-time goalie coach, the move to bring in seasoned veteran J-S Giguere was an incredibly wise one. There's no doubt that a young goalie will only benefit from having that kind of veteran presence behind him. Not only is Giggy a Stanley Cup winner, he has also won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff's most valuable player. As such, he knows what it takes mentally and physically to win on the highest level.
With the amount of incredible young talent on this team right now, the future is certainly bright for Colorado. Who knows, Varly may just help us forget old what's his name.