Chicago Blackhawks' Goalies: Huet or Niemi?
If you look back to my Blackhawks preview before the season started, I called the 'Hawks out on what their weakness will be this season: goaltending. So did every other 'Hawks (non-bandwagon) fan.
When you have a guy as your starting goalie who gave up 99 goals against in 41 games last year, you know you are in trouble. Yes, Cristobal Huet went 20-15 last season. Yes, it is a winning record and he saved 91 percent of shots against him. However, he is not the answer for this team.
If your team motto is "One Goal" and that goal is to win a Stanley Cup, I have news for you Blackhawks: Huet is not the right guy.
This season, yes, he has proven himself at times. The key phrase here is "AT TIMES!" When this journeyman goalie is bad, he is bad. Huet is 22-9 this season with 80 goals against in 37 games.
As 'Hawks fans have seen in Huet's bad games, when neither the defense nor Huet show up, the 'Hawks are in for a very long night.
I bet you're reading this thinking, "What about Antti Niemi? He isn't the answer either." You're right. I just haven't gotten to him yet.
Niemi isn't the solution either. In 18 games this season, Niemi has given up 34 goals with a save percentage of 92-percent. Don't get me wrong, this is much better than Huet. Is he really our best bet though?
Niemi is too young and inexperienced to lead a team this talented to the promised land.
Coach Quenneville tried to give Niemi a chance to prove himself as a viable starting option versus the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 23. Niemi gave up three goals on only 12 shots. That is ridiculous when you are supposed to be an NHL goaltender; Niemi was pulled after one period.
What do the 'Hawks do now? Do they start Niemi most of the time? Start Huet most of the time? Or do the two mediocre journeymen split time?
If the 'Hawks expect Lord Stanley's hardware to be placed in their hands later this season, or anytime in the future for that matter, they need to find a REAL viable goalie option.
All Stanley Cup winners have great goaltending. Defense alone wins championships in any other sport. But a team needs goaltending AND defense to win a championship in the NHL.
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