Friday, May 6, 2011

Playoff Goaltending - Why Ryan Miller is an Expendable Necessity

Goaltenders like Ryan Miller are not Necessary to Win a Stanley Cup:
Allow me to explain.  The fact of the matter is that the goaltending position is highly dependent upon the play of the rest of the team.  No goaltender can singlehandedly win a game because they can't score.  Furthermore an average goaltender can be made to look significantly better with a good defense around him, like Chris Osgood in Detroit, or can be made to look worse by a poor or inconsistent defense like Ryan Miller in Buffalo.  Because of this it makes little sense to tie up an enormous amount salary whose performance is dependent upon the players around him...who your tying up enormous amounts of salary into.

But Goaltenders like Ryan Miller are ABSOLUTELY Necessary to Win a Stanley Cup:
Regardless of how much you're paying a guy to sit between the pipes, they need to be playing well to win you a Stanley Cup.  Having a guy with Miller's level of preparation, talent, and consistency back there means that you're more likely to get the great performances you need night in and night out than you would be from a lesser goaltender.

Verdict:
You need almost every player to be playing at or above their ability, including the goaltender.  The high paid vs. low paid goaltender debate is one that will never have an answer and never be resolved because there is no one way to win a Stanley Cup.  Well, there is, it's to get everyone playing well regardless of their elite/non-elite status.  I do think that teams are best served sticking with whatever they're dealt, although it is probably easier to try and poach a better goaltender via free agency than it is to trade your top guy and risk messing with the chemistry of your team.

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