Washington Capitals Lack of Goaltending Still a Huge Cause for Concern

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIMarch 14, 2011

Can Neuvirth take the starting job come playoff time?
Can Neuvirth take the starting job come playoff time?Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have won eight consecutive games and everybody wants to crown them as Stanley Cup champions again.

Ovechkin has played well, recording 10 points in those eight games. They're getting solid goaltending from their third string goalie and their defense is shutting down opponents.

Everything seems dandy and sweet, right?


First off, six of the eight wins on this winning streak have come against teams that are on the outside looking in; one of the two teams that is actually in the playoffs is Tampa Bay, who has a negative goal differential and has atrocious goalie problems.

Seven of the eight wins on this winning streak have been one-goal wins. As mentioned before, these were games against the bottom half of the NHL and the Capitals are barely beating them by one goal.

It's true that a win's a win, but it's not surprising that they are beating the bottom half of the NHL. Nobody should make a big deal out of it because they already should be beating those teams.

This winning streak might actually hurt Washington in the long run. It may give them a false sense of confidence and hope.

The truth about Washington is that they still don't have a goalie and have done nothing to address this issue.

Michal Neuvirth, Brian Holtby and Semyon Varlamov are not the answers. After Tampa Bay, the Washington Capitals have the worst goaltending situation from any of the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh has Fleury; Boston has Thomas; New York has Lundqvist; Montreal has Price; Buffalo has Miller; Carolina has Ward; even Philadelphia has someone that they can call a No. 1 goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky.

Washington pretty much rides with whoever is hot. This has proved to fail them in the last three years.

In clutch moments, it's not the hot goalie that prevails, it's the better goalie. That's why they haven't been able to get out of such games.

One can recall in 2009, when Fleury only allowed one goal in Game 7 in a 6-1 Pittsburgh romp over Washington.

Varlamov allowed six goals in that game.

Then a year after, Montreal's Jaroslav Halak stymied the Capitals in the whole series. Montreal was seemingly outshot 40-20 every game in that series, but because of strong netminding, they were able to pull off an upset for the ages.

Fact of the matter is, any team's offense is not going to be consistent throughout the two months of a playoff season. Washington definitely has someone who is capable in doing that in Alex Ovechkin, but this year has just been an inconsistent and off year for his standards.

If he continues this way, they will really rely on their defense and goaltending to win in the playoffs.

Their defense has been strong this year, as they have allowed the second least amount of goals in the East this season with 171.

Despite their criticism, the Washington goalies have not been all that bad. Their problem is that they are not playoff proven. They had 121 points last season and couldn't get past the first round mainly because their goaltending did not match up well with their oppenent's goaltending.

Any team that has won a Stanley Cup has had an established goaltender that they trust as their Np. 1 lead their team. Washington clearly does not have this and it doesn't matter if they keep winning in the regular season.

They did that last year better than anybody.

What matters is having trust in your team in the playoffs and until they find an established starting goaltender who they can count on, Washington is not going anywhere.