The Coaches Room is a regular feature throughout the 2023-24 season by former NHL coaches and assistants who turn their critical gaze to the game and explain it through the lens of a teacher. In this edition, Paul MacLean, former coach of the Ottawa Senators who won the Jack Adams Award voted as NHL coach of the year in 2013, and assistant with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs, looks at the importance of goaltending in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Goaltending is key for success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

It's like a three-legged stool and is one of the biggest legs on that stool, with special teams and 5-on-5 play being the others. 

Goaltending can make such a big difference and erase a lot of mistakes that are going to be made. If your goalie can be the eraser and keep your team in it, that can really give it a lot of confidence and courage to play a little bit harder and do more to help him. 

The goalie can be a real rallying figure when he's making saves, whether he's standing on his head or looking calm in cool in the net. He just gives your team so much more confidence and willingness to move on and do the things that are necessary to find a way to win a game. 

They're a big, big part of it. 

You look at a young goalie like Arturs Silovs of the Vancouver Canucks and maybe the 23-year-old just doesn't have to the time to think ahead about what he's doing and is just in it. He has nothing to lose, really. He's in there, he's the third guy and supposed to be anchoring the Black Aces, not the Canucks' playoff run. But they're good athletes, good players and they're competitive. I think they understand they have nothing to lose, so they just go out there and play. There shouldn't be any nerves in them.

Now that Silovs has played, he's going to get more attention, and maybe it starts to get to him a little bit of where he is and what he's going to do. At first, players like him are just coming in and want to show everybody that they're good and want to help their team. As time goes on, we'll see how he adjusts. 

Silovs is going to get a lot more attention after the game he had Sunday, when he made an NHL career-high 42 saves, including 21 in the third period, in a 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of Western Conference Second Round. Game 4 is at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN). It'll be interesting to watch him moving forward, see how he reacts and if he continues to play with the looseness that's made him so effective.

VAN@EDM R2, Gm3: Silovs snags the puck at the goal line

A goalie like Edmonton's Stuart Skinner has played the whole season. There was way more pressure on him than Silovs and the Oilers decided to start Calvin Pickard in Game 4.

The Oilers have this Cup-or-bust attitude, and know what Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are doing and what the rest of the team is doing. If Skinner reclaims the starter's role, he doesn't have to be Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, Ken Dryden or anyone like that. He just needs to be Stuart Skinner, make a save when it's there, not think too much about it and give his team a chance. That's all he really needs to do.

Edmonton is a good enough team that it doesn't really need a big chance. It just needs a little one and Skinner is more than capable of providing that chance, but the pressure of being the goalie in that market, that's a difficult position. It's a hard spot for a young man like Skinner, 25, to be in and he's showing some signs of it.

But again, you can't leave Brock Boeser all alone at the hashmarks and expect the goalie to stop those kinds of shots, so the opportunities the Canucks are getting are pretty Grade A and most goalies are not going to stop ones from there. I don't think there are that many who I would say, he should have that one back, or should have had that other one back. If the goalie can stop one more puck, that's what I always ask them to do. If he can stop one more puck than the other guy, then everyone will go home happy.

As far as the rest of the playoffs through the first round and into the second, it's been very, very physical.

Anytime the Florida Panthers are playing, you know the game is going to be physical. It's a trait of theirs and they keep everybody on their toes.

The second round between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, and Carolina's first-round series against the New York Islanders, were also physical. The physicality of playoff hockey is back, which is good.

I was a little bit surprised that the Vegas Golden Knights weren't as physical as they were last year. I thought their fourth line was a really big factor in their march to the Stanley Cup. This year, they looked like they were trying to score all the goals and have impact that way instead of being the physical presence they were in 2023. They got away from their identity, which hurt them in the long run.

I think the Dallas Stars are playing really well and lead the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 in the best-of-7 second round. Young forwards Logan Stankoven and Wyatt Johnston, each 21, are a lot like Silovs, players who seem to come out of nowhere and are having a great time. They're making big plays and scoring big goals at big times. Dallas is getting a lot out of them.

The Rangers are also really playing well. They have speed, skill, their power play is going at another level and their goalie, Igor Shesterkin, is playing well. They're playing a real fast game, but Carolina has won two straight to avoid elimination.