Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Win, You Start

A sublime win in Boston tonight, as the Ducks went 2 for 2 on the power play and 6 for 6 on the penalty kill en route to a 6-1 victory over the Bruins.

Several encouraging trends flowed into tonight's game. Lupul is still blocking shots and passing (I can't believe it either). Artyukhin is still scoring. Selanne is still a power play machine. And Koivu still ain't afraid of Zdeno Chara.

But the trend most likely to influence the game against Philadelphia is that Jonas Hiller won, putting Carlyle's reported 'you win, you start' system to the test for the first time this season. Hiller got very little work after a shot-heavy 1st and 2nd period tonight, and he had the benefit of goal support and an Anaheim team still attacking the opposing net, something Giguere could have used against Minnesota.

Daniel, is 'you win, you start' a valid method for choosing a starting goaltender or will Giguere and/or Hiller too often suffer at the mercy of both the schedule and inconsistent efforts from their teammates?

I choose to believe that Joffrey Lupul has read our complaints and has altered his game to please us. I figure that's just as likely as a shot going off Tim Thomas' pad, rebounding on Perry's head and settling in the back of the net.

As for the pressing issue, I think Carlyle's plan to just keep the winner in net is eventually going to run into a couple of roadblocks. Obviously, it's detrimental to a goalie to be punished for the poor play of the people skating in front of him (see Giguere in Minnesota). Just as important, what do you say to a guy who makes 25 saves in a 1-0 loss?

I don't believe for a second that if Hiller wins on Saturday, he will be playing on Sunday. I think Carlyle has always been the type of coach who doesn't mind making waves with the players, and he does a great job of getting them to go the extra mile. I expect him to keep Hiller and Jiggy on their respective toes for a while. I might have a little too much faith in Randy, but his attention to detail leads me to believe he recognizes the hot goalie regardless of play. The guy giving us the best chance to win will be between the pipes.

Until he decides on a number one, Giguere and Hiller will be juggled, like any other line that Carlyle squeezes production from.

You know, I think the answer here is both. Yes, the goaltenders will be at the mercy of factors beyond their control and yes, that's a valid method for choosing a starter.

It's not like they're being judged on their ability to play with another team. Most of these players will be around in April, giving this same checkered effort. So how Giguere and Hiller perform behind them is an ABSOLUTELY valid way of determining who should be the number one.

I mean, this is just the nature of being a goaltender. The game comes to you. It's not like you can go out there, work hard and make a big save. You're at the mercy of the flow of the game, not to mention a healthy dose of luck. Giguere and Hiller have to prove they can find a way to win, find a way to shut the door and find a way to pitch themselves out of trouble. And I think it's fine for Carlyle to put that pressure on them. If you can find a way to beat Detroit when everyone on your team is letting you down, then you've earned your job security.

And on the possibility of starting Hiller back to back, I think it's something Carlyle should consider. Hiller had a lot of trouble on short rest (for a backup) last season. If he wants this job, he should have to prove he's taken the next step with his conditioning.

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