26 January 2011
The Colorado Avalanche will go as far as Craig Anderson takes them this season. There's no savior goalie coming in to save the season. Even if there was, I'm not sure a goalie could. The defense needs work, a lot of it, but Peter Budaj isn't taking this anywhere in the playoffs. I'm a big Budaj fan, but he's established himself as a solid backup, and nothing more.
Frankly, This seems obvious to me.
So I continue to wonder why Sacco waffles so much with his goalies. I realize there's an urge to go with the hot hand when it comes to goaltending. And when a team is stuggling, especially in it's own end, it's very hard to replace the defense and very easy to replace the goalie. You'd think the coach would have more sympathy for that situation though, since that's a large reason why coaches get fired, they are easier to replace than entire teams.
Nevertheless, Sacco has made the decision, multiple times, go with Budaj in back-to-back games after outings where Andy had goal riddled performances. LAst night against Phoenix was a bad one, but the example that strikes my mind as most damaging is the Detroit-Chicago games of January 10th and 12th. After struggling a bit since returning from injury Anderson had been strong in 3 of his previous 4 starts when he took on the New York Islanders. (Those previous 4 Andy starts: a 4-3 win against Edmonton in which he stopped 32 of 35, A disapointing 3-2 loss againsy CGY the following night. A strong performance in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver, and a strong 1 goal against in a 2-0 loss to PHX) In that Islanders game the Avs PK was brutal and Andy gave up 3 goals, all on the PK, before the Isles scored an ES goal in OT to beat the Avs 4-3. Not Andy's best game, but certainly not one that could be pinned on him either. Budaj getting a start against Detroit wasn't a problem, but when Sacco decided to play Budaj again against Chicago it could only be perceived as a number of things: a benching for poor play.
This benching shows little confidence in Anderson, despite the recent solid play and the outstanding play of the previous season. It also is a bit insulting since he was benched for a game against the Stanley Cup Defending Chicago Blackhawks, a team that Andy was drafted by and the team closest to his hometown. (FYI: The Avs lost 4-0) I'm not going to pretend to know what Andy was thinking, but If it were me I would feel like it was a slap in the face, and a vote of no-confidence. (Adrian Dater also wrote some about this at the time as well.)
Sacco seems to be a fan of sending messages through playing time, and the message he was probably trying to send was: You have to be better. The problem with this is that those messages can get lost. The message I took from it is: Sacco has lost faith in Anderson.
Again, the Avs are only going as far as Anderson can take them this season. It may not hurt to try showing some confidence in him and that they will sink or swim with him.