Well, it appears that Jose Theodore at least had an excuse for his poor play in Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs. As it turns out he was too ill to stop more than three quarters of the pucks he faced and to even sit on the bench after he was pulled.
Nobody is suggesting that Theodore will never appear in the Avs net again, but after Budaj came in and stopped all 20 shots he faced and was clearly the best of the three goaltenders that appeared in the game, Avs coach Joel Quenneville clearly faces a difficult decision if Theodore is healthy enough to start Game 2 Saturday afternoon.
Of course, not having Peter Forsberg because of his persistent groin problems – gee, never saw that coming – and having Wojtek Wolski leave the game in the first period didn’t help at all. By the time Theodore left the game after giving up four goals on 16 shots, the Avalanche had lost three of its best players from the first round.
Budaj almost pulled off an upset in Game 1 thanks to his own strong play and a shaky performance by Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood, who managed to clamp down in the second half of the game. But still, the guy faced only 21 shots on the night and is clearly benefiting from a team that outshoots its opponent by ridiculous margins. In the first round, the Red Wings outshot the Nashville Predators by an average of 16 shots per game and in Game 1 against Colorado, the difference in shots was 15.
Osgood is not yet, however, losing games for the Red Wings and on a team as good as Detroit, that’s just as good as a goalie who wins them.
One of the reasons for Detroit’s fine play in the post-season has to do with the play of its Swedish star – which requires a few more specifics when you’re talking about the Wings.
Actually, Johan Franzen, who scored his third and fourth goals of the playoffs in Game 1, also added an assist and was the best player on the evening. Going back to late in the season, Franzen now has 19 goals in his past 23 games, which qualifies him as the hottest goal-scorer in the NHL these days.
That Franzen currently shares the lead in both goals and points for the Red Wings in this year’s playoffs is a testament to their depth, particularly since the Red Wings have had little trouble scoring goals in the playoffs. They are averaging three goals a game, which is a plethora by modern-day playoff standards.
If the Red Wings continue to outshoot their opponents by double digits in every game, there’s almost no chance they’ll lose a best-of-seven series.
The only thing that could stop them would be an out-of-the-world goaltending performance, which will require Theodore to either get well soon or Quenneville to make a very gutsy decision and for Budaj to reward him for it.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.