14 February 2009
Last night against the Canadiens was really a microcosim of Budaj's season. He played well, and had a decent game, for the most part. His defense broke down in front of him (and the defense on the last Habs goal was miserable) and Budaj was unable to bail out his defense. Because of that Budaj is taking most of the heat for the loss. The majority of the blame should be placed on a coaching system that sees far too many breakdowns like that, even when there's good defensive players on the ice (I saw Hejduk, Liles, Hannan and Wolski on the ice) and the players who let a guy beat 4 defenders and walk in all alone on Budaj, but part of being a goalie is picking up the slack when the defense makes a mistake. This season Budaj has been unable to do that, and has received a lions share of criticism.
It's time to pack in the "Believe in Budaj"campaign. This has, most assuredly, been his roughest season. I still think he has the ability to be a quality starting goaltender in this league, but there's one thing that's really holding him back, and that's really himself. He seems to have a very fragile psyche, and as a goaltender he needs to be able to tune out any and all distractions and forget about bad goals. He never was able to recover from his first 3-4 games of the season, when he was awful, and a goalie needs to be able to do that. His lack of confidence has now lead to a new hole in Budaj's game.. the 5 hole (which wasn't even a problem for him until this season.)
He hasn't been nearly as bad as some people have said this season, and there is still plenty of time for him to get back on track (which I'm cheering for). Having a Swiss cheese defense in front of him helped absolutely none. It's not an excuse, Budaj needed to be better and he wasn't. It hasn't helped the team.
It's time to focus on the future and bringing in a goalie upgrade. Budaj had his shot and for many reasons, the main being his performance, he didn't seize the opportunity. I still like Budaj and hope he can fix some of his biggest issues.
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