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Blame The Goalies, Not The Coach?

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Mark Kiszla, Denver Post sports columnist extraordinaire, has weighed in on the supposed "goalie controversy" still hovering over the Avalanche.

For a guy who hasn't written about hockey all season, he sure thinks he knows a lot.  At the top of a column called "Pair Of Goalies Is None," he writes:

There's nothing to pick between goalies Peter Budaj and Jose Theodore.

No wonder coach Joel Quenneville cannot make up his mind.

Anyone who's actually followed the team this season already knows that this statement is backwards in its logic.  The reason the goalies have suffered is because Quenneville can't make up his mind, not the other way around.  This is not difficult to see.

But Kiszla continues:

Although Budaj has carried a slight majority of the workload since opening night, Theodore was given a start in consecutive games for the first time all season against the Sharks.

When I asked Quenneville his logic, the coach explained that he liked the idea of job sharing between Theodore and Budaj in the early weeks of the season, but now it would be ideal if one goalie could put together a winning streak and take command.

How does one "take command" when one is unsure if he will play the next game, regardless of his performance?  How does Peter Budaj, for example, find the needed confidence and rhythm to win when he starts on an irregular basis?  How is Theodore expected to do the same thing?

But here's the real howler:

"It's an area where you're looking for consistency. And guys feed off the confidence the goaltender gives them," Quenneville said.

Holy shit my mind just melted.

The fact that Coach Q does not recognize the fact that the only source of goaltending inconsistency has been himself, from day one, is testament to the fact that Colorado could probably use a coaching change.  I'm now officially in the camp that the Avalanche would be better off with a different guy behind the bench.

Finally, Kiszla, in his infinite wisdom, takes us home:

How much longer can this team wait to gain confidence in Budaj or Theodore?

As winter turns colder and the playoff race grows hotter, Colorado must again consider a league-wide search for a goalie as the trade deadline approaches.

Do the Avs really have any choice?

The team already gained confidence in Peter Budaj last season during The Streak, when Budaj was the bedrock of one of the most impressive late-season runs in NHL history.  There is NO DEBATE about that.  The only person who didn't seem to notice was Coach Q.  

And who, pray tell, would the Avalanche sign to replace Budaj and Theodore?  What superb goaltenders are up for grabs?  Is there a single team in the league that would be willing to part with a superstar netminder in this day and age?  Luongo, Lundqvist, Brodeur, Nabokov, Ward, Gerber, even Pascal Leclaire---none of those guys are going anywhere.

The problem is not the goalies, Kiszla, so stop blaming them.  The problem is the coach.  Until Budaj is given the consistent starts he deserves (see: five or more games straight), he will never find the consistent play he delivered so well last season.  The blame does not lie with him, nor with Jose Theodore, who no longer has to live up to high expectations because we all know he's incapable of doing so.

If there needs to be a change to the Avalanche, it should be behind the bench, not between the pipes.