Colorado Avalanche: Goaltending Woes Holding Avalanche Back

James CriderCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Craig Anderson #41 of the Colorado Avalanche keeps his eyes on the puck before making a save against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 15, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last year at this time, goaltender Craig Anderson was playing so well that he was in the discussion for the Vezina Trophy and was considered a candidate to make USA's roster in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

How things have changed.

After sustaining a freak knee injury in the warm-ups of a game he was slated to be the backup in, "Andy" just hasn't been the same. His 3.21 goals against average is ranked 43rd in the league, and his barely average .900 save percentage is ranked 35th.

Both numbers are a far cry from the goaltender who led the NHL in saves only a season ago.

Anderson did recently lead the Avalanche on a six-game win streak but gave up 19 goals in that stretch, while the high-flying offense scored a whopping 27 times.

Backup Peter Budaj has had a bit of a bounce-back year, having already started more games than he did all of last year. However, "Boods" is far too inconsistent to rely on, and his goals against average and save percentage numbers mirror Anderson's. He's also allowed three or more goals in his 10 last starts.

It isn't quite time to hit the panic button, but it's up to Craig Anderson to start playing like he's shown he can the past two seasons. If he can't, there will be some serious questions concerning the Avalanche's starting goaltender spot heading into the offseason.

The Avalanche may have a great offense, but they aren't going to go far at all if winning games requires them to score four times every game.