The Jets have not played past 82 games since they moved back to Winnipeg. They got Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford for now. They are in a playoff position and have to stay there. They look good and could give some teams some problems. They are better this year, but like the other playoff teams they can look at one position and figure out why.
You have to have goaltending or you have no chance. The Jets used to rely almost entirely on Ondrej Pavelec to carry the load. He was not good enough or durable enough to get them to the next level. They were always close, but just not quite good enough. This year they have Michael Hutchinson sharing the duties and it is working. Hutchinson already has 15 wins.
Why is Calgary so much better? Jonas Hiller has given them stability already appearing in 37 games and his backups Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio have combined for 12 wins.
Barry Trotz has had a big influence on the Washington Capitals, but it is the play of Braden Holtby that has the Caps back in the hunt.
Philadelphia is struggling because Steve Mason cannot stay healthy. Ray Emery is the back up, but has been called upon to play too many big games. His goals against is 3.25 and his save percentage is .891. The Leafs can’t decide who is there number one because neither Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer can put a string of good games together. Bernier has a 2.76 goals against and is at .500 and Reimer is five games under .500 and has a GAA of 3.20.
Kari Lehtonen is doing his best in Dallas, but his backups have combined for two wins. The Stars had to get a goalie and hope that the deal with Buffalo to get Jhonas Enroth pays off. It will be interesting to see if this works because Enroth has looked good playing for the worst team in the league, but now he will be expected to win. He is eight games under .500 with the Sabres and has a goals against of 3.27.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been no where near as good as he was last year and has been hurt a couple of times. The expectations were high for the Blue Jackets after their surprise finish last year, but they had no chance without great goaltending.
The Canucks missed the playoffs last year and finished with 83 points. There were a whole lot of reasons and explanations handed out. Coaching, special teams, no scoring, but the biggest one has to be goaltending. Roberto Luongo was like a lame duck politician. He knew his days were numbered, yet he was still around. He played 42 games before being dealt to Florida. Now don’t get me wrong I like Eddie Lack a lot and think he will be a number one goalie in the NHL, but he had never played an NHL game before last season. How could you think he could come in and get his teammates to believe he could make a difference? How could you possibly think that a young goaltender that had never played in the NHL could come in and play 19 games in a row.
Signing Ryan Miller gave the Canucks instant credibility in the crease. They had a Vezina Trophy winner. They had an NHL all star. They had their confidence back. The Canucks are in a playoff position because Ryan Miller has six shutouts and 25 wins. Eddie Lack has been a good backup and has chipped in with five wins and lightening the load by playing in the back-to-back situations.
I may be biased, but without goaltending you have nothing.