Pre-game reading: On the importance of the backup goalie

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— Up top, Jack Eichel knows the Buffalo Sabres have to win a lot of games down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs. But he did not answer any questions about his haircut.

— We’ve written a lot on PHT about the importance of backup goaltending, and how it has the potential to cost bubble teams a playoff spot. Here’s another take on the same topic from Sportsnet’s analytics columnist Dimitri Filipovic, who writes: “Teams tend to be conservative and they prefer the safe back-up goaltending option they’re familiar with because they theoretically know what they’ll get. The issue with that line of thinking is that it generally comes at the expense of actual ability — there’s usually a reason why recycled back-ups haven’t cemented a regular spot for themselves.” (Sportsnet)

Related: Tuukka Rask has been one busy goalie 

— A very enjoyable read from ESPN’s Craig Custance on the short-lived California Golden Seals, who at the very least left some great stories. “Like counting fans one Christmas Eve and finding 976 people in the building. Or the time a woman called the front office to ask what time the game started, only to be asked right back, ‘What time can you get here?'” (ESPN)

— It may not have been his intention, but Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis provided a great reason for the NHL to maintain its participation in the Olympics — even if it means sucking it up and going to the 2018 Games in South Korea in order to get the real prize. “We believe and I believe that China is the next great market for hockey. The Winter Olympics will be played in China (in 2022). The Chinese government, the Chinese people, the universities and secondary schools are committed to the game.” (

— On the future of Ryan Miller in Vancouver, where the 36-year-old netminder is enjoying his best season as a Canuck in the final year of his three-year contract. Said Miller: “I have to talk to management at some point and see if they’re interested in something. They’d have to give me an indication of a guideline — or what the plan will be — and kind of go from there. I’ve become more comfortable here and I’ve been trying to make the best of this year.” (The Province)

— We already wrote about this a couple of days ago, but here’s some clarify from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly on what Vegas GM George McPhee will soon be able to do, possibly even before the March 1 trade deadline: “(McPhee) can’t acquire players who are still playing in the 2016-17 season. But he can acquire draft picks, unsigned draft choices … and he can start making deals related to the expansion draft.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Enjoy the games!