Thursday, April 26, 2007

More On Anaheim's Goaltending

The Anaheim Ducks have the best two goalie system in the NHL. Despite the fact Jean Sebastien Giguere deserved a spot in this season's All Star Game and has a Conn Smythe victory in 2003, the Ducks went with the hot goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at the beginning of their Minnesota series. Bryzgalov played very well and has a history of good playoff goaltending. As soon as Bryzgalov got into trouble, allowing four goals in the game three loss to Minnesota, Giguere got put back into the Anaheim goal. Since then, Giguere has manned the Anaheim goal and played very well. He has a 0.93 GAA and a .966 saves percentage in the playoffs so far. Both of those numbers lead the league among goalies with any significant time played (ie not including Jocelyn Thibault of Pittsburgh who only faced one shot).

Giguere is a very good goalie who can steal a game or two for Anaheim in any series. He is not as good as his opponent Roberto Luongo of Vancouver over the longterm, but a best of seven series is not longterm. As long as he keeps the goaltending difference close, Anaheim will likely have an advantage due to their better offence and their two Norris calibre defencemen.

As Earl Sleek reminded me, J-S Giguere's wife had just given birth, and the baby was born with a defect (blindness in the eye). I think Bryz's start was more due to this than Giguere's play.
Bryzgalov started the final three games of the regular season for this reason and he played very well in them. Giguere had been away from the team for a part of that time. I think that it took both conditions for Bryzgalov to start. 1) Giguere being away 2) Bryzgalov being the hot hand. They probably would have started Giguere for game one had Bryzgalov been coming off a horrid start.
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