Remember John Druce? During the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs he scored 14 goals in 16 games as the Capitals made it all the way to the conference finals (where they were swept by the B’s). Druce came off the bench, where he spent most of the regular season as a fourth liner collecting eight goals, to become the biggest steal in playoff pool history. I don’t know how or why my buddy Spud picked him in our pool but he sure let us know how smart he was when Druce delivered him the winner’s pot in our pool.
Who will be this year’s John Druce and will he be a goalie? In the ’83-’84 regular season Steve Penney played in (and lost) four games for the Canadiens. Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny split the crease that season and the Habs struggled to the last seed in the Wales Conference. Penney took over in the first round against the first place Bruins and led the Candiens to a three game sweep. Penney went on to win nine games in the ’84 playoffs as the Habs lost in the conference final to the defending Cup champion Islanders. My memory of those playoffs was the organist at the Forum playing “Pennies from Heaven” as their new hero led the march against their longtime rivals from Boston and their new provincial rival, les Nordiques.
Damien Cox from the Toronto Star and ESPN recently wrote an overview of the backup goalies you’ll see sitting at the end of the bench (or in the tunnel if the game is in San Jose) in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. It doesn’t really matter which one of them is the best goalie because only two or three will get any real ice time, either because of injury or non-playoff performance from the starter. But I think one of them will end up stealing a couple wins for his club. So which one actually has that in him given the chance? My money’s on Jaroslav Halak of the Canadiens or Ray Emery of the Senators.
Steve Penney did not end up being the reincarnation of Ken Dryden, as many in Montreal had hoped back in 1984, but Carey Price very well could be. Price is one of the best goalie prospects in a long time but he’s still young. The Habs are good and can win with either goalie so if Price struggles out of the gate I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give Halak a chance. The backup’s role is to provide support when needed so I could see Halak delivering a win or two before handing the crease back over to Price.
Same thing in Ottawa. Gerber has played great this year but he’s capable of pitching up a stinkbomb as well, if for no other reason than the Sens have been the model of inconsistency in front of him. Emery has his issues but he can win a game on his own as well. If Gerber does not play the way he did in stoning the Canadian team in Torino the Sens won’t hesitate in switching to Emery. Cox says the Sens are still figuring out who the starter is so neither of their goalies makes his review but you can bet the house on Emery wearing a ball cap when game one starts in a couple weeks. You can read Cox’s complete story here.