Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ANDREW RAYCROFT SHOULD BE THE STARTER

Please let me speak. I never thought I would support Andrew Raycroft. Ever.

First of all, I'm in the habit of supporting every Avs play no matter what. I've made some exceptions in the past. Brad May, for example, is a player I despised.

Andrew Raycroft sucks. Don't get me wrong. But he's our best shot at making the playoffs.

LOL.

No, seriously.

I find it funny that Jibblescribbits happen to go on a rant about the supposed Avalanche goal controversy, but I couldn't help the timing. I needed to get this off my chest.

First of all, Andrew Raycroft is 7-1 this year while Peter Budaj 13-19.

Records are generally bogus, but I'll get to that in a second.

Raycroft has the edge in the GAA (2.71 compared to Budaj's 2.82) but Budaj's save percentage is slightly better than Raycrofts (.901 compared to .894).

The save percentages suck. .900 is the minimum that any good goaltender needs to reach in order to be proficient and the best goaltenders should be well above that.

Many will argue that stats don't tell the whole story.

The defense has sucked, the turnovers have been endless, and Marek Svatos is the best defensive forward on his line. That isn't really what a goaltender wants to hear.

Back to the records. For whatever reason, the team plays better when Raycroft is in net. In his eight starts, the Avs have scored 5 goals three times, four goals once, three goals once, and two goals in the other three games. Six of the games have been one-goal victories for the Avs.

This tells me that Raycroft is winning close games. Whether that's a random act of the defense playing better, or Raycroft playing weaker opponents, I don't know. Winning is the name of the game. I don't care how you do it. Budaj is 9-7 in one-goal games. That's not bad, but it's not great.

I'm not going to compare these guys to any other goaltender in the league. I could compare them to Jose Theodore, but that would be stupid. Theodore has benefited from playing behind a great team, and anyone who has seen him play knows that he is simply a shell of what he was last year.

Instead, I'll simply ask a question.

Why Budaj over Raycroft?

Budaj has never shown that he can be consistent. He has never shown that he can handle the #1 spot. He was given a chance last year. He lost it. He was given a chance this year. Instead of sealing the deal, he somehow managed to let Raycroft sneak into the equation.

There is no way the Columbus defense is that much better than the Avalanche. Yet, Steve Mason has been one of the best goaltenders in the league over the last month.

I just want to see Budaj string together some sort of streak where he is outstanding. I have yet to see it.

It's not Budaj's fault either. Maybe it is the defense. Maybe it is the system.

But Andrew Raycroft gives the Avs the best chance to make the playoffs because he is WINNING. Give him five or six games and see what happens. If the Avs go 4-2, then maybe we have something. If they go 1-5, then put Budaj in, call him your #1, and be glad you're getting a Top 10 pick next season.

Lets face it, neither of these goaltenders are the best candidates to lead this team to the Cup. I don't believe Budaj will ever reach that level. Raycroft's career has been in the toilet, but it was just a couple of seasons ago that he won 37 games. He is CAPABLE of reaching that level. Given the current state of the team, and the long odds that exist for making the playoffs this season, there is no reason why Raycroft shouldn't be given the chance to start five or six games in the coming month.

After a strong performance against the Predators, Raycroft will be in net tomorrow night against the Blackhawks. After Chicago, the Avs play Pittsburgh on Saturday. This presents the perfect situation to see what Raycroft is truly made of. Start him in both games. No matter what. See what he does. See how the team plays in front of him.

Shoddy defense. A craptastic offense. You can't win without goaltending. It's possible to win a game 1-0, but it's mighty tough to win a game when the opponent is scoring soft goals each and every night. Budaj hasn't shown me that he can eliminate soft goals from his game.

I like Budaj. From everything I've read and seen, he seems like a nice guy. I know that his record and his stats might not be a true reflection of how he has truly played this year. I know that I'm going to get shelled for writing this. But when I see a 7-1 record, I think it's stupid not to explore it. His stats aren't any better, so why is Raycroft winning? Lets find out. If Tyler Arnason is allowed to be the #1 line center for a few games, Andrew Raycroft should be allowed to start a few games.

Sit Darcy Tucker. Play Andrew Raycroft.

Give him a chance. See what happens. There is nothing to lose.

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5 comments:

Jibblescribbits said...

I just want to say. Raycroft has benefited from playing teams weaker than the Avs.
All of Raycroft's wins have come against struggling teams, save 1: Detroit (and you could argue Phoenix). His 7 wins are against:

Dallas (when they were a bottom 2 team)
Nashville (in a 4-game losing streak)
Tampa x2 (S-u-c-k-y)
Philly (Start of the season in a 6-game losing streak)

and 2 pretty decent teams:
Detroit
Phoenix

With a (putrid) loss against Columbus.

So against teams worse (less points) than the Avs he's 4-1 (and 3-0 against teams better than the Avs, but there's a gigantic * next to that Philly win, because Philly was playing pitiful at the time. In reality it's more like 5-1 vs teams worse than the Avs, and 2-0 vs. teams better than the Avs)

Against teams worse than the Avs Budaj is 6-2. If we're going to do comparison's lets make them Apples to Apples here.

This isn't a knock on either goaltender. I'm happy Raycroft is playing well, but Budaj isn't playing all that badly either. Both goalie is playing fine, and I hope Raycroft gets more starts. But anyone that thinks that putting Raycroft in net is going to result in the Avs playing a lot better is in for a very rude awakening. There's a lot more wrong with this team than goaltending (and as sad as it may be, it's been the strength of this team this season.

And with that I'm seriously done talking about it at all. I'm happy Raycroft is going to face better competition, and I hope the Avs win. But even if they do I seriously doubt it's because of him, unless he's the one bailing them out.

Jibblescribbits said...

I'll view your stunned silence of confirmation I am correct.

GEO said...

Or that I haven't had a chance yet and I have a really sore throat. I'll get to it before the game tonight.

Jibblescribbits said...

Nope... no other possible explanation. I'm right!

GEO said...

You are right! There is no other possible explanation! I am sick! But while I'm watching Voices (the Mike Haynes one), I'll try to get out a response. I just have to hope Raycroft doesn't embarrass himself tonight.

First of all, on the topic of Raycroft benefiting from playing the suckier teams. Yeah, I'll give you that. But that's his role as a backup. However, take a look at a few of the games you mentioned.

Tampa #1: 17 saves / 20 shots, 4-3 win.
Colorado was playing the second game of a double header.

Tampa #2: 37 saves / 38 shots, 2-1 win.
It was a bizarre finish but Raycroft was huge (in the dreaded shootout) and was probably close to the sole reason the Avs were able to win that game.

I won't argue Philly because he got them when they were sputtering and it's not fair to argue Dallas either.

For whatever reason, both goalies were tremendous against Detroit. I guess that's a good sign.

I'm a little light-headed and this reply is probably incoherent at this point, but one more point:

Last year, Jose Theodore took control of the job. He carried the Avs on his back and got them into the playoffs.

I want Peter Budaj to do that. Get a shutout. Stand on your head. Do something.

For whatever reason, Raycroft is winning this season. Tonight (and possibly Saturday) gives him an opportunity to show the Avs that he might be able to lead them this season. If he has two great games, he'll have earned himself more playing time.

I, personally, don't think there's anything wrong with a goalie controversy. Quenneville took it way too far. But a little competition is never a bad thing.

I like Budaj as a backup. Not a starter.

If the Avs could somehow bring some support for the third line, a starting goaltender, and a new coach in time for the playoffs, I'd be thrilled.

There are bigger problems on the team, sure. Goaltending has been a strength. Ok.

But this team has sucked this year. There's a lot of room for improvement, even where we're "strong."

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