I didn't think Auld was really even that bad -- I'd have said it if it were Cloutier too. (I'm most critical of Dan when he takes himself out of the play, and that wasn't the case here). Kind of reminds me of Game 5 against Minnesota in the 2003 playoffs: we allowed a whackload of goals, and it was hard to blame either goalie for them. We just kept giving Edmonton golden opportunities. There were maybe 2 he really should have had (funny how this "should have had" business -- for Cloutier too -- is really a product of post-1995 hockey. If you watch a tape of any 1970s game, pretty much all the goals "should" have been stopped), but when you have tap-ins from the goalmouth and perfectly placed wrist shots, not so much you can do. I didn't think Markkanen was that bad either -- he was pulled to shake things up, and I can't believe how regularly this deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic strategy does
work against Vancouver. From the midpoint of the second period (when goals were coming fast and furious) I predicted that Conklin would shut the door (ask tCL, I was chatting with him on Messenger at the time!
, and he did.
All that said, our goaltending is obviously still far from sufficient to make anything of a playoff run. Which brings me to my next point:
tantalum wrote: Nonis still has to decide what he wants to do...a veteran 1A/B type guy to share time for the remainder of this year or a 2-3 year solution until Auld is more ready to assume the starters role (if he continues to improve). Personally I think he should be looking that longer term solution and personally I think he should be looking to hit one out of the ball park.
I agree, and it's not actually because of our goaltending, per se. It's because of the other deficiencies in our game.
We match up great
with the New York Rangers. I was entirely unsurprised when we beat Ottawa, because we have consistently in recent years. I wasn't even scared of the Flyers. Put us up against red-hot Buffalo, and I'm not worried.
Of course, none of those teams are ones we could face in the first three rounds of the playoffs. There's a reason why we can't win divisional games:
1) Colorado - psychological block and phobia
2) Edmonton - outwork us every game
3) Calgary - can't beat their system
4) Minnesota - OK, we can often beat them, but if they Calgaried a little better, we wouldn't be able to
The rest of the Western Conference isn't miles better for us. Vancouver has tremendous strengths in a vacuum, but we barely get to use them in real-life intra-conference games. (This is why we can
beat Detroit, though, because they play a more open game). When was the last time our "high-flying team" beat a rival by four goals? 2002 or so?
What this means is if we can't beat 'em, join 'em. It may be time to change our style if we hope to go anywhere in the playoffs. And the easiest way to do this is to 'hit one out of the park' as Tantalum says, by way of a star goalie. To get any of them (including ones not on the block), we will, by definition, have
to overpay. If a goalie is available for a reasonable price, then we won't be the only team after him, obviously. So if we want to make a run this year -- and we don't have much choice, what with 'the window' and all -- we've got to give up a fair bit. (We have to anyway to clear the cap room, obviously, but Jovo alone would take care of that).
Time to look for some nwe strengths... because there isn't a playoff team in the West who doesn't have an extremely realistic shot at beating us.