Analyzing the trend of 'skimping' on goaltending

niemileightonhandshake.jpgI firmly believe that there isn’t a “magic bullet” or specific formula when it comes to building a winning hockey team. Simply put, the NHL changes too much year-to-year in the post-lockout era to claim that there’s one way to skin that Stanley Cup cat. Before I expand on this point, though, let me point you to an article that features Craig Button’s “4-2-1-2 Theory” of putting together a hockey team.

Former NHL general manager Craig Button has a theory that if you allocate 65-70 percent of your salary cap money to nine specific players, you’ll be giving your team a chance to contend for the Stanley Cup. He calls it his “4-2-1-2 theory,” and with the way things have gone this offseason, it’s not at all surprising to learn that according to Button, the goaltender is the seventh-most important asset when it comes to distributing money from your salary cap.

“You need four good defensemen, two really good centermen and then your goaltender comes in before you get two more good forwards,” Button, now an analyst for the NHL Network, explained to “If you put most of your money into a goaltender and you don’t have defense, those teams are not winning.”

The article points out that the four teams who will pay the most for goalies next season are the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Wild and Islanders. Conversely, the teams who spent the least are the Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks and the Presidents Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. When you look at a playoff run that featured the downfall of franchise goalies such as Ryan Miller and Marc-Andre Fleury versus the rise of previous backups such as Jaroslav Halak and Antti Niemi, skimping on goaltending definitely seems “chic.”

But the truth is that one year does not make a trend and it’s just not that simple. Sure, the Blackhawks skimped on goalies, but their team building model will be in question immediately after entry level deals for elite players turned to hefty second contracts. Look at the other Cup winning teams over the years, too. The Pittsburgh Penguins spent $5 million per year on their goalie Fleury. The Red Wings spent very little on Chris Osgood. The Anaheim Ducks poured a bunch of money into J.S. Giguere but also featured two Hall of Fame defensemen in Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. The Carolina Hurricanes were spending very little on Cam Ward the year they won the Cup but put nearly all their resources into promoting amazing forward depth.

What does that summary tell you? In my eyes, it says to accomplish the easier-said-than-done goal of putting the best team possible on the ice. You need forwards who will win tough matchups against checkers, defensemen who can log big minutes and a goalie with the mental makeup to shake off the occasional bad goal.

If I had to choose, I’d spend less money on a goalie if I were a general manager but walking that netminding tight rope can be very dangerous. Sometimes you get lucky and land a Niemi or Tuukka Rask, but sometimes, you get what you pay for.

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    No hearing scheduled for Burmistrov after Bergeron headshot

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    Winnipeg forward Alex Burmistrov isn’t in line for a disciplinary hearing for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed to PHT.

    Burmistrov was tagged with an illegal check to the head minor late in the first period. Bergeron received a minor roughing penalty for retaliating on the Russian forward, but was able to finish the contest.

    Afterward, B’s head coach Claude Julien expressed frustration with the hit.

    “It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’€™s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said, per WEEI. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’€™t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”

    Bergeron said that, while it was “definitely a hit to the head,” Burmistrov did come up to him afterward and apologized.

    According to sources of CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, Burmistrov received a warning from the Department of Player Safety.


    After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

    Claude Julien

    The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

    Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

    Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
    Joe MorrowKevan Miller
    Matt IrwinZach Trotman

    And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

    That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

    “I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

    But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

    “It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

    And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

    Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

    All in all, it was a tough night.

    “We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

    The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.