In case In The Cheap Seats is not one of your daily blog destinations, allow me to share with you an impassioned plea to Colorado Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville from my esteemed colleague, Draft Dodger.
Joel Quenneville, could you meet me at camera three for a second? Thank you.
Hi, Joel. Look, I think I get what you’re doing here. You want a number one goalie, one who can carry your team when they struggle and who you can ride deep into the playoffs. You know that Budaj is a steady but unexceptional goalie; a good guy to have, but not, as they say, a playoff goalie. Others might disagree, but I can see where you might think that. So, you continue to sit him in favor of Jose Theodore, a guy who used to be exactly that. Who knows, you think, maybe he’ll regain that Hart form of six seasons ago. Dude, trust me, it’s not going to happen.
Here’s the deal, Joel. In 2004, the wise NHL suits decided to give us all a one-year break from hockey. When everyone came back, some players seemed like they never missed a beat. Others took a bit longer to get back into game shape. And some, coach, some just couldn’t ever get back into that groove. Can I tell you which one Jose is? Here’s a hint: since the lockout, Theodore has a GAA of 3.23, a save percentage of .884 and not one flipping shutout. That’s in 134 games, so I’m not sure we can blame sample size on this one. Budaj, by the way, has post-lockout numbers of 2.77, .900 and 5 shutouts. Not Vezina (or Conn Smythe material) I know, but that one less goal every other game has it’s value, yes?
I know what you are going to say. He’s showing signs of rebounding this year. Well, he was. At first, that is. In his first 8 games this year, Theodore put in 5 games with a save percentage over .900. His GAA in those 8 games was 2.23 and his save percentage was .920. Spiffy. Except that many people watching him thought it would be only a matter of time before he started falling apart again. And hey, guess what? In the 7 games since, he’s had a save percentage over 900 just once. Ouch. In that span, he’s got a 3.62 GAA and a .850 save percentage. You aren’t going to win too many games with a goalie like that, Joel. Certainly not with a team that has not 2nd or 3rd line (I’ll save that spiel for another day).
Let’s just stop the Theodore experiment, shall we? Can we just agree that he is not the goalie he once was, that he hasn’t been that goalie for a number of years, and, most importantly, that at the age of 31 he doesn’t seem to have much chance of regaining that form? Agreed? Now, if Budaj isn’t your guy, I can accept that, albeit begrudgingly. Of course, you’re going to have to take that up with Francois Giguere, because I don’t think we have much else in the way of alternatives in the system. He’s going to get you a guy that you have confidence in. Until that happens, though, you’re going to need to go with Budaj for a while. This team needs points. I know you know that, because I hear you talking about the tight Western Conference race frequently. For now, you’ve got to go with the goalie who will give you the best chance to win games. That guy is Peter Budaj. Now stop fucking around and win some games. Please. Thank you for your time.
Seriously, how much longer do we all have to say this before he catches on? Does anyone in Avalanche management see what's going on and what needs to be done?
Are we, the fans, just that much smarter than them?
Don't answer that.