And we're back again with today's 3rd and final Avalanche Blogger Roundtable question. So far we've covered the Avs' attendance (or lack thereof) and the team's level of toughness. With the final question of the day, we get to a topic near and dear to everyone's heart: Craig Anderson.
Question 1: Avalanche attendance woes
Question 2: Avalanche toughness
Craig Anderson started a franchise record 71 regular season games for the Avalanche last season. Does Anderson need to have a similar workload this year in order for the Avs to make the playoffs again?
If you haven't had a chance yet, Jay Vean of Avs Hockey Podcast has his answers for today's questions up in a podcast.
Mike Thompson, Mile High Hockey: I'm under no illusions that the Avs will make the playoffs this year. Anderson's # of starts isn't a variable that will impact my decision-making equation on this one.
David Púchovský, Eurolanche: Why not? Yes, there were few games when the backup should have start, but if the Colorado wants to have great, great goalie, first of all, he has to play as many games as possible. For every goalie is the most important how many games he will play: more games, more experience
Shane Giroux, Avs Talk: I don't see Joe Sacco straying much from his strategy last season. Did Anderson wear down as the season went on? Yes, but it was his first year facing such a huge workload. He'll be more prepared for it this year and he'll likely hit 70 starts again.
Marc Parsons, Hendricks Hockey: I think Coach Sacco will make the right choices again, but i believe that he's seen that Andy can take on the workload. But I also believe that Budaj will play an extra 5-8 games this season, and hopefully Andy will not play on back to back games.
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: I still believe in Budaj. End of story.
Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: If the Avs want to make a serious run into the playoffs they are going to have to get Peter Budaj more starts this year. I think he needs to get at least 20 starts for Andy to have enough left in the tank for a long run into the playoffs. From all the reports I have been reading, Budaj has fully embraced the role of the back up and has come into camp with more of a swagger than most have seen out of him.
Andy Robbins, Avs Weekly: Last year, the answer would have been "Uhhh, yes," however this year I do not believe the Colorado Avalanche will require such consistent starts from Craig Anderson to be successful. Budaj is always in superb shape and his confidence is high no matter the situation. The few times Budaj was called upon last year, he truly shined. Many Avs fans are reluctant to put their faith in Peter Budaj, yet I would like to establish a movement that restores that faith. Why not have faith in your back-up goaltender? It's an uncomfortable feeling. Stop it. Now.
Ryan Boulding, The Burgundy Blog: It isn't about the quantity of starts for Andy this year but the quality. I would love to Peter Budaj start 20 games this season. Just enough for Anderson to get some rest but not so many that he falls out of a groove. I'm not a believer that the 71 starts wore Anderson down. He needed to know what it takes to be the number one goaltender on any competitive team but ultimately it was the Olympic Break that broke Andy's groove. Still, you hate to see a goalie burn out like Jonathan Quick did last season so again, I'd like to see Budaj get close to 20 starts.
Jaye Horbay, Patrick Kane's Loose Change: Please GOD, NO!! I really hope Sacco learned his lesson after the meltdown post Olympics. I understand a goalie needs to keep his ‘game rhythm,' but going to your NEW starter and asking "Are You Ready to Go?" every game? What do you think the answer is going to be from a guy looking to prove himself to a new team? I think if they want to keep in the top 8 this season, hell even make a post season run, they NEED to give Andy the Backup Hat and explain to him how to work the Defensive End Door.
Aaron Musick, Hockeybuzz: If Anderson needs start to 71 games for the Avs to make the playoffs then they shouldn't be there. This year it's still about making the playoffs but it's also about doing well once you get there. To do that they need a rested Anderson. Anywhere between 60-66 games is perfect, given the Avs' schedule. However, if Anderson starts the first five games in which two sets are back-to-back, the past season will be prologue for this season.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice & The Hockey Writers: I don't think so. Boods doesn't get enough credit. I think he is a very capable and skilled goalie. Sacco should feel confident putting him in there and resting Andy because Boods can most definitely steal a win here and there. I think a good number of games started for Andy is around 55-58. I don't think Andy LOOKED fatigued during the playoffs last season, especially during his 51 shutout escapade, but he very well could have been. Getting Budaj some more playing time could be beneficial and I think the team still makes the playoffs regardless.
Paul's Coffey, Mile High Hockey: Absolutely not. Last year the young players needed time to get comfy in their new grown up jobs, and Andy carried them along during that trepidatious tip-toe against the learning curve. This year, the team should be more prepared out the gate and not have to rely so heavily on their demigod in net. The Avs don't need Andy to start 71 games to make the playoffs, but they can't make the playoffs without him either. And so long as he isn't abused so jovially by Sacco this season, Andy should be able to carry the team deeper in the playoffs with a more judicious regular season work load.
Adam Hersh, An Avalanche of Thoughts: I don't necessarily think that Andy needs to have another 71-start season in order for the team to succeed once again. Budaj, though streaky, has proven himself to be a very capable goaltender, but I think he will thrive on playing more often, as opposed to once every month or two when coach finally decides to yank Andy away for the night. Mr. Sacco, Give Peter A Chance, or GPAC.
Matt Jordan, Mile High Mayhem: Yes. Peter Budaj just isn't a quality starting NHL goaltender.
Geoff, The Avslova Factor: Craig Anderson was a revelation last season. His .917 SV% and 2.64 GAA literally "saved" the Avalanche season, and had it not been for a minor bump in the road after the Olympic break, a Vezina nomination wouldn't have been out of the question. Still, Peter Budaj ALSO had a .917 SV% and a 2.64 GAA. Budaj shouldn't be the starter for the Avalanche, but he plays the backup role very well, and he's definitely capable of taking some of the load from Anderson. A 60-22 split is where I would like to see the Avalanche goaltenders this season. After all, the goal is no longer to simply "make the playoffs." It's about advancing. To do that, Andy needs to be well-rested. Plus, we need to give Jibbles a chance to bust out the "I Believe in Budaj" buttons.
Courtney Beckham, Chicks Who Give A Puck: Anderson's play started to fall apart after the Olympics. While he provided many spectacular games the ones that he was no match for the other team were also staggering. He should NOT be playing that much.
Colorado either needed to go and sign a goalie Sacco could trust or Budaj needs to be given more chances. Putting Anderson in time after time when he is mentally exhausted will not work. Our team suffers from keeping the puck in our own end, having disastrous turnovers in the neutral zone, and taking the least amount of shots on goal last season. Yes we were effective when we shot but we didn't shoot often enough. The team has to play as a team instead of relying as much as they did on Anderson. They should all be leaving everything out on the ice each game they play. They didn't do that last year, but they have the ability to do it.
Matt Powell, The Burgundy Blog: This is one of those situations that as a fan, I'd like to see Andy have some more games off, but when trying to analyze these games and come up with some kind of answer for these questions, you've really got to look at it from a player's perspective. If Anderson every argued about starting that many games he certainly wouldn't be our number one goalie. He's the type of guy who wants to play every game. I think one of the main issues last year was that we had so many back-to-back games where Andy didn't see a break. This year there aren't as many back-to-back's because there's no Olympics. It's a safe bet that Andy could start just as many games this year, but he'll be more rested.
Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: We all know that Anderson was the main (if not, the only) reason the Avs made the playoffs last season. However, I don't believe that he needs to get that many starts again this season in order for the Avs to make the playoffs. Peter Budaj has shown that he can play the back up role as well as the best back ups in the league. When he actually got his chances, he still managed to put up the same numbers as Andy. A fresher Anderson would also really help our chances in the playoffs.
Angélique Murray, Avs Prospects, Mile High Hockey, Chicks Who Give A Puck: I firmly expect Anderson to play 60+ games this season and he'll have to be sharp as he'll likely see a lot of rubber. He'll need to be Colorado's best player for the team to return to the playoffs. Anderson will benefit from not having a condensed schedule as this is not an Olympic year like last season.
Terry Frei, The Denver Post: No. The Avalanche need to make Anderson's workload similar to Patrick Roy's - 61 to 65 games, with Budaj playing one of the two nights in back-to-back situations. That's if Anderson's play remains at the same level as most of last season. If they weren't going to show at least that much faith in Budaj, they shouldn't have re-signed him. And I also think playing Anderson that much gets into diminishing returns territory. He hasn't shown he's got Brodeur-like durability
Grant Beery, Hockeyism: With the return of Peter Budaj, who I don't think will make any waves this year, Anderson is once again stuck with most of the goaltending duties. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. He has shown he can handle the workload, and after spending so many seasons as a backup, I'm sure Anderson is very happy to have a Brodeur-like schedule.
Stephen Crociata, Patrick Kane's Loose Change: Budaj went 5-5-1 in games he started last season but could have easily been 7-3-1. If he is able to perform up to the same standards this season Coach Sacco needs to put a little more trust in Peter and give him about 20 starts. Now if Budaj can't put out consistent starts Andy proved last season he can carry the team on his back and in the end goal-tending will be the biggest key for the young Avs.
Frenchy, Real Denver Sports: Craig Anderson is a damn fine goaltender, let's get that straight. He was given the chance to be a #1 goalie last season and he made every second count and he has proven he can hang with the big boys in this league. The Avalanche would never have made the playoffs last year without him. But...I do think he did play too many games. Especially with the way the defense played last year, that's way too big of a work load for one guy. Now, I've never been a fan of Budaj, as a #1 goalie. But as a back up, he's a pretty decent guy to come in a relieve Craig from time to time so he can get some rest. The Avs need to use Budaj this season! (Never thought I would say that but it's true) I would like to see Anderson play around 60 games or so, let Budaj get the remaining games. Anderson is going to get the Avs into the playoffs, but let's not make him so tired that he won't be able to play at the level we know he can play.
It's not a hockey season in Denver if you aren't able to discuss the goaltending situation, even if it's just a debate over how many games the backup should play in. Nothing has changed for the Avalanche in this area - Joe Sacco is still the coach, Craig Anderson is still the starter and Peter Budaj is still the backup. Will we see any difference in the way Anderson and Budaj are used this year?