It is no secret, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are a time when a team relies on their goaltender more than any other time in the year. There is no one key to winning the Stanley Cup, but if you want to make the long, arduous run you will need a top level netminder.
If you look around the NHL at the moment, it is not hard to realize why the teams that remain are still in the hunt; it is all about the goalie. The easiest example to point to from round one was the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2013 Penguins are an all-star team with a lineup that will be one for the ages. Rarely does a team with this much skill actually come together and because of such they are the favorite to win the cup, but that is not a given. Marc Andre-Fleury showed us all just how important it is to have a solid netminder. The New York Islanders kept in the series by taking advantage of Fleury’s sloppy play. Although the Pens had the offensive strength to stay in games, it could have been a lot easier on them with a solid netminder, just ask Tomas Vokoun.
More recently, the work of the Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard has been the difference maker. When the Wings forced the Anaheim Ducks out of the playoff picture, many thought Chicago would still have an easy time against the aging Wings. Instead, Howard has kept his team in the hunt and has led them to a 2-1 series lead through the first three games.
You can go on and on. The St. Louis Blues outplayed the Kings, but Jonathan Quick wasn’t about to allow the Blues to get an easy goal. Henrik Lundqvist stole the series away from the Washington Capitals. When Craig Anderson turns it on he picks up a game against the Penguins. Goalies are the reason that teams win cups.
Sure, you have to have a solid team around the goalie and you have to have scoring. Brian Elliott put on a great performance in the playoffs, but without the help of the offense Elliott could not do it alone. Still, the goalie at the other end of the ice still outplayed Elliott. This is the story of the NHL playoffs; this is why the Chicago Blackhawks could be in major trouble during their run.
The Blues have a log jam at the goalie position, but do they have a goalie that can win them a cup? The short answer right now is no. The Blues may make a move to send Halak on his way or maybe they make a move to see what they can get for Elliott, but either way they still don’t have the goalie to win them a cup.
Let’s hope the Blues find a way to improve in net. LET’S GO BLUES!