Let’s start with a recap as of right now.  Teams out of the NHL playoffs:

  • Washington Capitals
  • New York Rangers
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Pittsburg Penguins
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Phoenix Coyotes
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Anaheim Ducks

And, teams in the playoffs:

  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Nashville Predators
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Boston Bruins

Can you spot the difference between the first group of teams and the second group of teams?  Drum roll please:

GOALTENDING - GOALTENDING - GOALTENDING

I don’t know why teams think they can get away with sacrificing goaltending.  It started in 2004 after Tampa Bay won the Cup and subsequently dealt Khabibulin, only to plummet to the bottom of the standings.  It happened last year when Chicago decided they couldn’t keep Niemi and then had to hope Dallas lost on the last day of the season so they could limp into the playoffs and lose in the first round.  Those are the most perplexing examples (to me) but others are not far behind.

Where does Philly think it’s going with the stellar trio of Bobrovsky/Boucher/Leighton?  Congrats, you made it to the finals last year and lost, and now you barely escaped the first round and are getting crushed.  Where does Washington think it’s going with the outstanding tandem of Neuvirth/Varlamov?  I’ll tell you where: golfing.  Hey, Anaheim!  How is the dynamic duo of Emery and Ellis treating you?  Yoo-hoo, Chicago and LA!  Good luck getting “Crawford” and “Quick” engraved on the Stanley Cup!

I will give credit to the Rangers and Sabres for at least getting their priorities in order; they may not have much else going for them but so long as Miller and Lundqvist stay healthy you will see them in the playoffs for many years to come.  Credit as well goes to Pittsburg and Montreal for at least acknowledging that while a decent goalie will suffice, it is the minimum if you realistically want to contend.

Thomas.  Rinne.  Luongo.  Niemi.  Roloson.  One of those guys (need I point out 3 of 5 are Vezina nominees?) is winning the Cup this year.  No one else.  Think about it.  And until someone else is between the pipes for Washington, never EVER pick a Capital in your playoff pool because they will never get past the first two rounds no matter how many goals they score.

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