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I'll Throw Gas On The Fire: A Goalie Controversy May Be Brewing Again

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It goes with the turf of having depth at the goaltending position. Right now, with the Vancouver Canucks, the team has two solid choices in goal as they head into the playoffs.

Ryan Miller is going to play against the Oilers on Saturday night. It will be his first game played since injuring his leg, groin, or whatever on February 22. He told the media last night:

"I’m excited for the possibility. I was pushing to try to get back for one of the last games."

If the Flames win and Canucks outright lose tonight, Calgary will get home ice advantage in the two teams' first round matchup. It will be an interesting day of hockey, make no mistake. (PS: FU Calgary) How the Canucks play, from Miller-out will be subject of discussion after the dust settles and the playoffs begin.

The Canucks have a 13-7-2 record since Miller's injury, as Eddie played almost every one of those games. I absolutely refuse to toss goalie stats (goals against average and save percentage) at you. Always will. OK fine, Lack's numbers since Miller's injury are better than Miller's season average stats. I'm not gonna tell you what they are because goalie stats most of the time are team stats. On THAT point:

The Canucks' defensive play has been questionable this season, as the team pushed for more offense (and several D peeps are in question). If you are giving up glorious scoring chances against then the goaltender can only do so much. Lack has been mostly stellar in Miller's absence. He has let in softies, but he has also rebounded to shut the damned door on most occasions. I think the same can be said about Miller this season. We have seen that.

However, I hate that Miller returns from injury so late in the season. He rode shotgun to Lack in the Canucks' 5-0 ass-kicking of Phoenix last game. So....what kind of coach is Willie Desjardins (and organization is the Canucks?) Is he gonna ride the hot goalie regardless of individual salary in the playoffs? I say that because most times teams play their number 1 money goalie until he flounders. Here's what Willie had to say about the two goaltenders:

"You have to have two goalies going into the playoffs. You have to have two guys. It would be tough for Ryan to end up playing in a playoff game if he hadn’t played in for however long it’s been."

"Eddie has played great. He doesn’t have anything else he needs to prove right now, he has played very well. But we need both goalies ready to play."

So.....are you talking about having two goalies playing well in case of injury...or because you want to ride the hot hand? Or both?

The Vancouver Sun's Brad Ziemer states:

Miller figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.

I hope he is right. Not a knock on Miller, it's just that I like the team's play lately and I don't see much difference when Lack or Miller play, but the difference is in the details, right? When a goalie is on fire he doesn't just make basic and brilliant saves. It's far more than that. He stops the puck and doesn't give up a bad rebound. He makes a save and deflects the puck to an open teammate to leave or clear the zone. He leaves his net to stop the puck behind it and play it and act as a third defenceman effectively.

Lack will enjoy the night off tonight but make no mistake: He wants to be the #1 guy. To hell with Miller's $6 million contract right now! You play the goaltender that gives you the best chance to win.

So, kick some ass tonight, Ryan Miller. Take the conch FFS.

The bottom line is, given our blessed depth in goal and how goalies are scrutinized in this sport and especially in this city in THIS COUNTRY: Willie Desjardins will have important decisions to make. I can assure you this: if the Canucks fail in the playoffs the starting goaltending decisions and performances will be front and general....on the internet...because goalies always get crucified, much of the time unfairly.

Eddie Lack is the darling right now, make no mistake. Whether it's his tweets or postgame quotes, his mom tweeting and cheering for him or the "Eddie!" chants directed his way....he is the darling of the franchise between the pipes.

So let's hope that whatever goaltender Willie D goes with...the team succeeds. But don't lose focus, people. Watch how the team plays in front of whichever goaltender. That is more of a judge of the goalie's stats than anything else.

This post, by the way, is in no way trying to drum up a goalie controversy. You see... this market has a fine way of doing it to itself because most peeps are either / or misinformed or have never played between the pipes.