NHL Week in Review (May 15-21)

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There is little doubt about the most important position for an NHL team in the playoffs as the goaltenders are the linchpin for success.

The goalie position is so important because they represent the last line of defence when a mistake is made.

In a part of the season where mistakes can mean the difference between going to the Stanley Cup and finishing your season early a goalie can be a saviour or the reason for an early exit.

They can stand on their head and save an entire game by giving their teams a chance to score with saves totalling 30 or more.

That type of play can provide the security needed for a team to get that one goal that will be the difference in an important game.

Finding that goalie is always much tougher than anyone may think though as there never seems to be an easy answer.

Even goalies that have been consistently great can collapse under the pressure in the playoffs.

On the other side, heroes are made when those unknown goalies are thrown into the chaos of the playoffs and play spectacularly.

It seems that every year a little of both tends to happen with many starters rarely going through an entire postseason without being replaced at some point.

This year is no different as all four teams left in the playoffs have had their own goaltenders decisions to make.

These decisions have either saved them or could sink them as the playoffs move on and every team is looking for a chance to win the Cup.

The San Jose Sharks seemed to have the best situation in net with Martin Jones turning out to be a very valuable off-season acquisition.

Jones has been great for the majority of the playoffs but in Game 4 was pulled when the Blues put up four goals against in a blowout loss.

There is little debate surrounding the Sharks as they will remain with Jones but more bad games by the team could lose him his job.

The Blues haven’t been without their own issues in net as Brian Elliott was carrying the team until the conference finals.

The Sharks won Game 2 and Game 3 in very convincing fashion and the Blues looked to make a change.

This was mainly done as a way to shock the Blues awake after looking completely out of it for those two games.

It is a strategy used as players see that a change was made and know it’s time to wake-up and begin playing at a different level.

With Jake Allen in net, the blues righted the ship and took Game 4 as the debate continues regarding who should start between Elliott and Allen.

On the other side of the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a goalie issue from the start of the playoffs.

Starting goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion and was ruled out of the majority of the playoffs.hockey-sidebar

The Penguins searched for a replacement at the start of the playoffs and eventually settle on 21-year-old Matt Murray.

He was a hero from the start as he was a major reason for the Penguins making the conference finals.

A loss in Game 4 saw Fleury return to the net after Murray allowed four goals.

The replacement has immediately brought a debate in Pittsburgh as many believe they should stick with the younger goalie after proving himself.

Others believe that they should move on with the veteran who helped them to a Stanley Cup in 2009.

For the Lightning, it was an easy decision heading into the conference finals with Ben Bishop continually playing great.

Game 1 saw Bishop go down with a “lower body” injury leading the Lightning to go with Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Although Vasilevskiy has performed well, if Bishop returns there is sure to be a debate about whether or not he should take over.

The goalie debates in the playoffs continue for another year as every team is trying to find that one player who can make a difference.

There is not a lot of room for error in these decisions either as the playoffs continue on with every game becoming more important.

Some decisions will work out while others will falter and in the end it could mean the difference for the two teams headed to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Overtime
(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Double-Down in Arizona
Hockey has been a debate in Arizona with the Coyotes planning to leave multiple times but that won’t stop the AHL who plan to move a team to Tucson as the Coyotes’ affiliate will be located closer despite rumours to the team moving

Return of Stamkos?
Steven Stamkos has yet to play in the playoffs after he was sidelined with a blood clot but talk has continued about whether or not he will return or when he will return despite risks presented by the blood clot

Concussion Lawsuit Continues
The NHL made another attempt at ending their issues with former players trying to get their concussion lawsuit thrown out but their latest attempt failed to continue the lawsuit claiming that the NHL didn’t tell players about the issues related to concussions in hockey

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