You know, I wish I'd had to time to think about the Sens' goaltending situation. Oh wait. We talk about it every single day. Ad nauseum. But I've now decided on the play I believe has the highest percentage for success.
Martin Gerber, every night until the Sens' season comes to an end.
If the Sens' goaltending situation was a Hollywood couple, the paparazzi would have labelled it 'Em-Ber'' by now. And everyone has grown tired of waiting for the Em-Ber to catch fire.
Ray Emery helped the Sens get to the Cup final last year. Martin Gerber backstopped the Sens' amazing start. But for the last 2 and a half months, neither keeper has been consistent enough to make the Sens think they can win a Cup with them. That's 2 months of pressure, intensity and goalie crashing. It's clear their struggles are due, at least in part, to the "Win and You're In" plan. It might work with some goalies but, for these two, it was a total failure.
I think if the Sens didn't have so much money tied up in this duo, they might have rolled the bones by now. Or played Bingo, a more appropriate games metaphor. There would officially be no gamble in giving some starts to Binghamton goalies Jeff Glass or Brian Elliott. What could happen?
Maybe one of them could pick up the ball Em-Ber keeps dropping. Of course, how would it look to have 6.7 million dollars tied up in two backups while some snot nose gets it done for you? Not good. A poor investment and an admission of evaluation error. That's why it won't happen this year. Without playoff success, it will happen this fall at camp.
In the meantime, John Paddock must go with the lesser of two evils. Don't base it on hunches anymore. Just the facts, man. Emery is 42nd in the league in save percentage. His attitude is bad. Gerber's numbers are way better and everyone in the room likes and respects him. It's not close. Gerber isn't a Vezina candidate but he is this team's best option.
Look around the league. I see inconsistency in goal everywhere. There are only 9 goalies in the 30 team NHL I'd replace Gerber with and feel certain, I mean absolutely certain, that I'd upgraded the position.
Robert Luongo (6.5M)
Martin Brodeur (5.2M)
Mikka Kiprusoff (he'll show up in playoffs) (3.6M)
JS Giguere (5.5M)
Evgeni Nabokov (5M)
Nikolai Khabibulin (6.75M)
Henrik Lundqvist (4.25M)
Rick Dipietro (4.5M)
Ryan Miller (2.5M)
You'll probably take a couple of guys off that list and add two of your own. It's subjective. But the point is, there aren't many clearly superior goalies out there. And only a couple with Gerber's price tag. And most are untouchables.
So if I'm John Paddock, my game plan would be three easy steps:
1) Send Emery away from this team in some manner, a positive on many levels.
2) Name Gerber the starter until the season is over. He earned it.
3) Get off my high horse and stop throwing Gerber under the bus after each game. I'd fill Tinu's head with so much positive reinforcement after, he'll think he's Patrick Roy. Any game that Gerber sucks in will be responded to as follows, "Well, he didn't get much help out there tonight. Gerber's been bailing us out all year and tonight we didn't return the favour."
If this were a reality TV show, everybody else would have been voted off Sens' island by now and only Gerber, while far from perfect, would remain.
Again, "Win and You're In" was a failure. It's over. If they stick with it much longer, come playoff time, Paddock's goalie motto will morph into, "Leave Doubt and You'll Flame Out".
You're welcome, John.
As for me...back to the garage.