Colorado Avalanche Playing Musical Goalies: Has Sacco Lost Faith in Net?

Kevin GoffContributor IFebruary 11, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 07: Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes has the puck poked away by Craig Anderson #41 of the Colorado Avalanche at the Arena on February 7, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche lost their fifth straight game, last night, to the Minnesota Wild.  The Avs are now 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and have fallen all the way to the 14th spot in the Western Conference. Still, they are 16 points above lowly Edmonton.

Over this past month, pretty much anything that can go wrong for this Avalanche squad has gone wrong.  In fact, about the only thing that seems to be moving in the right direction is Peter Forsberg, who may make his return to the ice tomorrow in Columbus. 

What seems to be frustrating the Avalanche, especially coach Joe Sacco, the most is the terribly sub-par play coming from Avalanche goaltenders Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj.

Over the past month, going back to January 6th, the two Avalanche goalies have had only two games where they have allowed fewer than three goals.  To go even farther back, over the last 30 games, all the way back to December 1st, the Avs have allowed fewer than three goals only seven times.  This will not get the job done.

Now, I am far from blaming these two guys entirely for the current down-slide.  Watching these games has been horribly painful.  The Avalanche are too young, too small, too inconsistent, and too prone to turnovers on defense, and that does not help the goalies at all.  In fact, they probably take far too much blame for all that is happening.  Still, there is great cause for concern.

The larger issue that seems to have sprouted from the inconsistent play in net is that Joe Sacco now seems to have no faith in either of his two goalies.  In the 3-2 loss to Minnesota, Craig Anderson was pulled from the game in the second period.  There have been a couple of occasions this season where Sacco has played Peter Budaj in consecutive games, but pulled him in the second game because he was just too inconsistent.  This constant flip flopping of goalies makes it seem, to me at any rate, that Sacco has almost completely lost faith in both his goalies.

A stark contrast from last year, when Joe Sacco was too attached to Craig Anderson, starting him in 71 games and pretty much all of the back-to-back situations that happened.  Has Anderson really been that bad that now he doesn't deserve to start three games in a row? 

Again, I'm not here saying the goalies have been great.  Obviously, they're far from it.  Andy's full numbers are 13-15-3 with a .899 save percentage, 3.19 GAA and zero shutouts. 

Budaj's are definitely no better at 12-8-3, .897 save percentage, 3.07 goals against and one shutout.  Really, neither goalie has shown that much to be confident in, yet the coach needs to show confidence in somebody. This constant flip flopping of goalies gives the whole team no confidence in these guys.  That has to have some type of an effect on them mentally. 

Some sort of consistency needs to be established in net.  Whether it is by one of these goalies stepping up their game, a lot, and solidifying that position, or Coach Sacco just sticking with one of those guys for the sake of consistency.  If neither of these happens, then it would almost be better to try to get involved on the trade market and bring somebody in that Sacco feels like he can have some type of consistency with, because the only consistent thing that is going on right now is the losing.