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Legace: An insider's look at playoff goaltenders

by Manny Legace /

Carey Price has to deal with the pressure that comes with being the Canadiens' goalie in the playoffs. Carey Price highlight video
Goaltender Manny Legace, an eighth-round pick by the Hartford Whalers in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, played five seasons in the minor leagues before embarking on a nine-season NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He led the Wings to the playoffs twice, and in his second season with the Blues, made his first All-Star team. Legace shares his thoughts on the starting netminders in this year’s playoffs exclusively with

Today, it is the four series that will take place Thursday night. Tomorrow, he will detail the other four series.

Boston vs. Montreal – I watched Carey Price a couple times on TV, and I heard he played phenomenally last year in the playoffs for Hamilton. Obviously, this will be a different situation, but when I watched him, he was pretty good. The only thing that scares me is this is playoff hockey and they’re a total skills team, not a mash-em, bash-em team. They score six or seven goals, but they’re letting up two or three goals per game. This is the playoffs and you have to be willing to grind it out.

There’s going to be a lot of weight falling on his shoulders to keep it 1-0 or 2-0.

I think if he gets off to a bad start and those reporters start ripping on him, it could go bad. I hope it doesn’t because I think he’s the future in Montreal. He reminds me of a guy that played before him -- Patrick Roy. I grew up as a Montreal fan, so I’d love to see him do well and bring that team back to where it once was. We’ll see in the first couple games. There’s a lot of pressure to play in that city. A lot like when I played in Detroit. There was a lot of pressure there, but it’s like ten-fold in Montreal.

I love Tim Thomas’ competitive nature. He’s very emotional. After he gets scored on, maybe he gets a little carried away, but that’s just his competitive nature. He’s willing to grind it out every single night. Diving out, scrambling all over the place, I just love that nature.

I just think if he keeps up that competitive nature and Boston is willing to go in there and grind Montreal, it has a chance. They have to say, ‘If we’re going to win, we have to win in six or seven.’ Let’s just go in there and grind it out. We’re not going to win in four so don’t get discouraged if we lose a game or get blown out. If they’re willing to go in there and grind it out for six or seven games, it takes its toll. If you’re willing to grind it out over six or seven games, skilled guys get frustrated.

Detroit vs. Nashville – I believe, as a tandem, Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood are the best in the playoffs. Dom’s record is what it is; it’s phenomenal what he’s done during his career. And Ozzie’s won a Stanley Cup in Detroit; he knows what it takes to get the job done. If one falters, the other can step up and take that role. Especially being in that room for six years, I know how both of them operate. And their teammates have total confidence in either guy. There’s no thought process going in, the job’s going to get done.

Nashville has been switching goalies between Dan Ellis and Chris Mason, but Carolina was swapping back and forth between Martin Gerber and Cam Ward two years ago and they won the Cup. As long as the guys in the room play the same way, it doesn’t matter who’s in net. Sometimes switching makes that goalie playing even better knowing he’s got to play great tonight. Or, it can backfire and the guy thinks one mistake will get him pulled.

I played against Ellis twice this year. He’s still pretty young. Mason has been there, he knows what’s going to happen. If it was my decision, I’d probably go with Ellis because he might not know any better when it comes to playoff pressure. He moves well, he’s not a big guy, but he plays big. He’s been playing great for them down the stretch. He played well against us, especially the last game, when they needed to win to get in the playoffs. I would start Ellis but know that Mason is ready to go if there’s a mistake.

Calgary vs. San Jose – I thought it was weird that they kept playing Evgeni Nabokov so much. Why did they keep playing him? Why keep throwing him in there night after night after night? You knew you had locked up your playoff spot. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to get home ice or not, you have a team that could win the Stanley Cup. I think it’s more important to rest your goalie for the time when it counts. I was questioning it when it went down. They went out and got Brian Boucher, and I thought he was going to play a lot of games and it didn’t happen. Boucher did it in Philadelphia -- he brought them pretty far in the playoffs the one year, but he hasn’t played in a while.

What happens to the Sharks if Nabokov gets hurt and Boucher has to play? His first start would be huge. There will be a lot of questions if Nabby gets hurt. I love the makeup of their team, but if he gets hurt and Boucher has to come in, it could waver quickly.

With Calgary, you look at the way Miikka Kiprusoff goes about his business and it’s like he doesn’t care. He’s got that attitude: I’ll stop the puck, no other worries. He skates around, looks at the crowd. I can’t do that. I look at the crowd once and my head is spinning. His mannerisms, it’s like it’s just another day for him. Even Game 7 against Tampa Bay in 2004, he was like, I’m just happy to be here, just stopping the puck. It’s just amazing how that man plays.

If Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere wins one or two games a series, the Ducks could repeat as champions. Giguere video
Dallas vs. AnaheimJean-Sebastien Giguere plays the same way night in and night out. He’s got that blocking technique down pat. He’s got his angles. He has phenomenal defense in front of him where he doesn’t have to worry about back-door plays and rebounds. Technically he’s so sound in the style he plays. He’s got it to a T. If he wins them one or two games in each series, they could repeat.

Last year for Dallas, Marty Turco played phenomenal. I loved watching that series because both goalies -- Marty and Roberto Luongo -- were standing on their head. Marty had three shutouts, and I think the other four games they lost by, like, one goal each. Marty hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003. That’s got to be weighing on him. I think this has to be the year he breaks that streak, especially with the team they’ve got. I don’t know if they have the team to go a long way, but I have to think they’ll win the first and maybe the second rounds. I like him against Anaheim. I don’t know why, but it’s a feeling. The way they’re willing to grind it out; against Anaheim’s defense you have to be able to grind it out. Dallas has a good mix of skill and grinders and I like it. If their defense can hold up and if Marty plays like he did last year, I think they can beat Anaheim.

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