Sunday, November 18, 2007

Between the Pipes

Okay, so let's talk about this whole Ilya Bryzgalov thing, because a lot of people are claiming we should have picked him up.

I am not one of those people.

Bryzgalov is a very good goalie. I'm not going to argue that fact, nor will I argue with the fact that he's 27 and probably in the prime of his career. To get a goaltender of his caliber without having to give up anything is very rare and it is, for some teams, a golden opportunity.

However...he is not the answer to our problems. He's good but not great - he's not the second coming of Patrick Roy or Marty Brodeur. Anaheim didn't have enough faith in him to carry their playoff hopes last year and when Giguere was out with an injury to start this season, Bryzgalov was not exactly stellar in relief. They have a much better defense out there, too, in case you've forgotten.

I, like the Capitals organization, am not willing to give up on Brent Johnson just yet. I was stunned to see how quickly the battle cry turned to "get rid of Johnson!" after Friday night's loss, so willing are we right now to point the finger at something concrete like a bad goalie that we forget logic and common sense. No, it wasn't his best game. I could tell you that, the commentators could tell you that...Johnny himself would likely tell you that. One bad game, though, and we dump him? Why?

I also think we're playing fast and loose with the definition of a "bad game". He let in some softies, sure, but he also made some great saves, including one sparkling one on Lecavalier that had me rewinding and watching again. And may I remind everyone that Olie had one of the worst games I've ever seen him play earlier this year against the Islanders - where were the cries to go out and get a "real" goalie then?

So what of the argument that we need to get a replacement for Olie now, start polishing up the next shiny new goalie before Zilla hangs 'em up? Frankly I don't see that there's any rush - we have some good goaltending prospects and should none of them be ready to fill the void in two years there are things called trades and there is something called free agency. Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't going to be that guy anyways - try as you might, you can't make me believe that he would hang around as a backup and then re-sign as a UFA when his contract is up.

I get that there is a sense of urgency right now among Caps fans. We're looking at the standings and seeing another long summer ahead. We're looking at the contract extensions by other big name players like Crosby, Thornton and Kipprusoff and we're wondering where they are for our guys. The future seems very uncertain right now. We see a good player become available and we want to pull the trigger, do something, show some sign that this team is interested in winning.

But you don't just go out and grab any old guy off the waiver wire, especially when you're talking about the one position that has been the steadiest all year. Aside from Ovechkin, Johnson and Olie have been the most consistent players of anyone on the team. If you asked McPhee why he passed on Bryzgalov he'd likely tell you that goaltending has not been the problem - and it hasn't been. Our netminders have been great. The rest of the team...well, that may need some work.

There's time.


DMG said...

I still maintain the Caps should have picked up Bryz. because I think they stand a better chance to win. Plus it's not like Johnson is a prospect - he's 30.

CapsChick said...

Johnson is certainly not a prospect but I think he's good enough to hold down the backup position while we wait for our actual prospects, Neuvirth and Varlamov, to develop.

Bryz would have had to play as a backup and he was being moved so he wouldn't have to play as one...and that's not even considering the fact that the money he's making is far too much to pay for a backup.

Eli said...

but wait, wasn't Neuvirth traded to a different system? Granted he's all of 17 years old, but that's still going to hurt. Don't you think?

CapsChick said...

I'll be honest with you, I'm not really sure how the whole junior team system works but I don't think trading Neuvirth from Plymouth removes him from our system. I think that only comes into effect with the AHL/ECHL teams we're affiliated with (although I'm not even sure on that point).

I'm not a "prospects" kind of gal...if anyone can weigh in on this with info, please do.

Anonymous said...

The whole up and down systems things boggles my mind as well. At this point I can handle that Hershey takes from South Carolina and D.C. takes from Hershey, and that's about all that's processed through.

DMG said...

eli; capschick:

The CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is made up of the OHL (Ontario), QMJHL (Quebec) and WHL (Western) and is a league for 16-21 year olds. They're developmental leagues (although considered semi-pro by the NCAA) that operate independently of the AHL and NHL. Thus a trade in that league doesn't affect NHL rights, just like someone transferring from Boston University to Minnesota wouldn't affect NHL rights and just like a player being sold/traded from Brynas to MODO in the Swedish League wouldn't change their NHL rights.