Gotten a little bored of doing some of our recurring posts, when we’ve even had time to get to them, so today I’m just going to spit out whatever’s rattling around in my freshly-shorn scalp at the moment.
So let’s start with what I’ve been most vocal about, and that’s the goalies. It’s funny, it was perfectly encapsulated by a discussion that was had during the afternoon transition on The Score 670 between Dan McNeil and Dan Bernstein.
I know a lot of you hate both of them, and I understand why. And in full disclosure, they’re both friends of mine and have been for a while. But today they illustrated how this Crawford-Emery debate is actually two different debates that only have a little to do with each other.
McNiel’s side of the argument was based in a version of ol’ hockey logic, and generally under researched as his hockey opinions can sadly be — citing Emery’s playoff accomplishments doesn’t hold up when you look at his latest foray into the post-season, obviously. I get there sometimes too, the notion that you have to choose one guy when it comes time to get to the real nitty-gritty. But he was all for naming Emery the #1.
I know Bernstein rubs many the wrong way, and that’s kind of what I like about him, but when he talks about hockey he’s not so buried in the forest he can’t see the trees. And his argument is that it doesn’t matter who’s in goal if the Hawks are playing the way they’re supposed to.
And that’s really the gist of it. It doesn’t matter.
We’ve lost sight of that in the intervening two years since the Hawks won a Cup with basically “a guy” in net. For one, the two champs since had superlative goalie performances on their way down the path, and some have taken that as a market correction of sorts back to the philosophy that your goalie has to lead you. Secondly, Antti Niemi’s current play fools some people into thinking that’s how he played then, which is most certainly not the case.
But there isn’t ONE TRUE WAY to win Lord Stanley’s Mug. And considering how much I love progressive stuff in hockey and baseball, you’d think I’d embrace an un-conservative approach to handling goaltenders instead of the safe, here’s my guy and now it’s not my fault approach that hockey has always had.
All the big questions about the Hawks in the postseason circle around their blue line, not their crease. Can Leddy, Hjalmarsson, and Oduya maintain their marvelous form in the crucible of the playoffs when they will be specifically targeted? Can Seabrook rediscover his mini-Pronger ways? If all those come up yes, Ronnie Woo Dio could play goal and I think we’ll still be dancing in June.
Am I worried about Ray Emery’s movement in a series where teams will try to pick that scab? Yes. So Q could just go to his other goalie with the .920+ SV% and the sub 2.00 GAA.
But it could just as easily go the other way, couldn’t it? Q could start with the way I’ve previously claimed he has to. And the Crow could get the yips again, in which case Q would turn to his other goalie with the the sub-2.00 GAA and .920+ SV%.
Essentially, for the Hawks to come unstuck in the playoffs and everything is working how it should be, both goalies would completely have to shit it spectacularly. I guess that’s less likely to happen if you have two shots at it, and the Quenneville seems completely comfortable in trying that approach. Not many have before.
The Blues didn’t last year because Halak got hurt. The Canes went from Martin Gerber to Cam Ward in the postseason, but again that was injury. There have been shuffles, notably the Flyers of 2010, who lest we forget were only one goal away from forcing a Game 7 in the Final. And both the guys they were rotating were legitimately terrible.
The Hawks won’t have terrible in net, either way. Most likely, at worst they’ll have ok to middling. And that really just might be enough.