Colorado Avalanche: Peter Budaj Is Showing His Worth in a Contract Year

Jon MillerContributor INovember 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, CANADA - NOVEMBER 24: Goalie Peter Budaj #31 of the Colorado Avalanche makes a pad save against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in NHL action on November 24, 2010 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Avalanche have had a revolving door of puck stoppers over the past several seasons.  From Jose Theodore to last year's hero Craig Anderson, it has been a stressful process for the Avalanche.

This season looked bright with Anderson between the pipes.  After proving himself last season, he was the undisputed starter in Colorado.

That was until he injured his knee during warm-ups in Vancouver on October 26 before a game that Peter Budaj was already supposed to start.

The Avalanche and Budaj lost that game in overtime, despite stopping 27 of the 31 shots he faced.  With Peter Budaj playing behind an already depleted defensive unit, Avalanche fans collectively held their breath.

With Anderson out, Budaj would go on to start the next 10 games on the schedule.  He won seven of them and recorded one shutout, with his signature win coming in Dallas on November 20.

After giving up a 3-0 lead, the Avalanche found themselves in a shootout against the Stars.  After blanking Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson, Budaj was beat by Mike Ribeiro.  He then stopped Jamie Benn and Steve Ott while the Avalanche, with goals by Chris Stewart and Kevin Porter, won the game.

While shootout victories happen all the time, it was how Budaj approached the shootout that really caught my eye.  After every shot, he would skate about halfway to the corner, stop and crouch down, staring at the ice.  He would not watch his team shoot.  He would just focus.  When it was his turn to face a shot, he would explode out of the crease with confidence like he’s never had before.

The Avalanche left the American Airlines Center with a victory that night.  But more importantly, they left with a confident goalie.

He’s going to need that confidence going forward because Anderson is back on the injury list.  

But Budaj won’t complain about a chance to prove himself.  After all, he is looking for a new contract for next season.