In light of Tom Brady's devastating knee injury, is a top-flight goalie more important to a hockey team's ongoing success than a quarterback to a football squad?
No question about it, I've never seen an NHL team go all the way without a killer net minder.
I've watched countless football games where Roger Staubach or some legend of a quarterback gets injured and the third string comes in and BAM!! Touchdown, a legend is born.
Sorry, it just doesn't work that way in the NHL.
Sure you can trade or call someone up from the minors, but in reality the NHL keeper is the pulse of a game. In football, if a quarterback is having a rough day, you put one less receiver on the field. If he's injured, make sure he can stay in the pocket or better yet, rest him and keep the ball on the ground.
No such luck in Hockey. Goalie has a bad day—the entire flow of the game changes.
Players don't have confidence to play aggressive to the puck, defenses hang back at their blue line and high-powered center-man has to come back and play defense to ensure the keeper doesn't have to field the puck.
I would say it is equal to trying to make sure your quarterback doesn't have to take a snap.
In rare occasions, you have something like last year's NHL season, where an aging veteran like Dominik Hasek has a few bad games, and the back up comes in and wins the cup.
But seriously, you are either a genius or a total fool to pull a goalie like Hasek in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team they beat last year for the cup, the Pittsburgh Penguins, lost their goalie to a high ankle sprain and went through a few goalies before calling up a minor league goalie to carry the load. Conklin did a great job keeping the Pens in the hunt until Fluery could come back in.
The irony of this story is the Red Wings retired Hasek ,made the backup the starter and signed Conklin from the Penguins under free agency...I rest my case.
In football it's always kind of exciting when a back up is given the green light for a period of time—in hockey, it's usually hopeless.
Enjoy your season!