So, back from hiatus and I’m feeling the pressures of the off-season signings. Last post I talked about what I considered to be some answers to the lingering questions that hung in the Montreal smog.
I talked about defense. I talked about the hope of a top six forward. I spoke about Markov, Gorges, and the rest of the D unit possibilities. Heck – I even talked Pouliot (I spelled it right this time!!!) and Ryan White.
But then, I read a comment on my take of what’s happening, and I stopped cold in my tracks – literally! As I was walking back from the market, my iPhone buzzed to alert me to a new comment, and as I read it – I realized that the reader touched on something completely significant. Something that I’ve been wanting to speak to – yet was too caught up in the MSM hailstorm of other news to fully undertake addressing it.
Who should back up Carey Price?
I know there are several schools of thought on this issue, but when a reader asks me specifically for my take … well … I give it!
Let me digress for just a moment though. This topic hit me hard in the chest just over 5 weeks ago when I called upon a few of my readers to participate in a Capology Roster Synopsis. The main topic of discussion lay in whether Markov would be re-signed, and who the next top 6 forward could be. The answers were solid and sparked quite the commentary.
But what struck me most was an area that no one seemed to really be looking at. So when a great new follower asked me to address the question regarding Montreal’s blue paint – it all came rushing back.
Let’s go here first … 72 Games Played resulting in a 38-28-6 record. A total of 8 shutouts (3rd in th NHL), and second overall in TOI for a goaltender in the league. I could spew a ton of stats at you that speak the volume of Carey Price – but there’s no need to beat a dead horse. The only confusion about Price’s season lies in the question as to why he was not up for the Vezina Trophy.
We’ll leave that one for another day – or the comment section.
So the question that really begs answering is this: Who should back up our number one goaltender Carey Price?
When our “Capology Roster 2011-2012” panelists weighed in, I was interested to see the answers. One person said Marty Turco at a cool million. Another said “who cares” at a million; while the third gave Alex Auld his job back.
Those answers struck me hard. And for many different reasons.
First off – the “who cares “approach is one that many of us would take. Price had stellar stats and so we don’t care who backs him up. In the end – number 31 is a machine and will handle the workload – getting the job done.
The second answer was one that I didn’t give a lot of clear thought to, until recently. Marty Turco. Really? A veteran who “commanded” $1.3M as a backup goaltender who went 11-11-3 with an overall .897 Save% and a 3.02 GAA ??? Why would I think he’d take a paycut, and why would I even want him with numbers like that? He’s 35 years old and hardly improving.
Before I move to the third answer – I want to go back to the “who cares” approach.
Reality is this. If anything happens to our star goalie, we need someone who can stand between the pipes and save the day. We need veteran experience without the attitude. We don’t want someone who believes they should be in a battle for the starting position. Instead – we need someone who recognizes their role as a backup – period!
So if not Alex Auld, who should it be? I’m looking over the available personelle and here’s what I see …
Mathieu Garon … He fetched a $1.2M contract from the Blue Jackets last year. In 36 games he posted a .901 Sv% and had a 2.72 GAA. He’s 33 years old.
Patrick Lalime (at 36 years of age) played with the Sabres in a backup role last year and in seven games played, went 0-5-0 with a .890 Sv% and a 2.96 GAA.
What about Jimmy Howard? Oh wait – he resigned with the Red Wings for $717K.
So who’s left? Brian Boucher? We all know where that would leave us … in a world of hurt!
So that brings me promptly back to square one. Alex Auld. When I look at his numbers, I’m sold on him. When I look at his integrity as a human being, I’m sold on him. When I look at his compatability with the organization, I’m sold on him.
Alex Auld was called upon to start 12 games this past season (he also came in for 6 others when Price was having a tough night). In that span, Auld posted a 6-2-2 record. His Save Percentage was at .914 and he recorded a GAA of 2.64.
It should also be noted that he’s only 30 years old, has no complaints about being number 2 on the bench, and seems to play well behind his fellow team-mates, who have great respect for him.
I think the part that took me over the top when it came to selling me Alex Auld was this …
Both Price and Auld were questioned about confidence as a net-minder. And in many ways they come from different schools of thought. But when I heard the following quotes – I was sold.
“You try to play too aggressive, you try too hard almost” says Price. His advice: “Simply be patient and let the puck come to you.”
Auld perks up again across from Price. “Just get back to the basics” he says. “Those same basics that sometimes get forgotten when confidence dwindles.”
Two different team-mates, taught two different ways, coming to the same conclusion. They compliment each other in every possible fashion. Price has star quality and a humble and solid approach to the game. Auld knows what he’s here for, and is pleased to do it without predjudice, or being disgruntled.
If ever there was a recipe that screams out perfection – this is it. I don’t want to go searching for someone to fill the role of someone who clearly already gets it. Ink the deal at 1.0M for another year and keep everyone happy.
The fans, the franchise, the starting goalie, and Alex Auld.