As much as the NHL has changed one thing has remained constant: a team is only as good as its goalie. For the Leafs to have any chance at the last playoff spot Andrew Raycroft has to find consistency. Between a hot start and a strong 2007 Razor was maddening. He was inconsistency personified and the injury plagued Leafs were not able to bail him out. What set him on the path towards being the leading cause of death among fans of the blue and white? A groin injury against the Bruins in a game which had, up to that point, served as a statement from Razor that he was back. Thankfully, the lingering effects seem to have cleared up:
My body feels as good has it has since September," says Raycroft. "There's nothing nagging, no groin, none of that stuff is lingering any more.
Considering that Maurice is going to start him the rest of the way that is a comforting statement.
What is less comforting and more amusing is this that I read on ESPN.com:
This is an average team beset by injuries and plagued by inconsistent goaltending. Is Andrew Raycroft going to morph into Dwayne Roloson? Or Ryan Miller? Or Cam Ward? No.
I do not usually frequent the World Wide Leader because their hockey writers include Damien Cox. However, I ocassionally stumble across something by Scott Burnside or Terry Frei or John Buccigross. For an organization that completely ignores hockey those three can put together a decent article once in a while. That quotation came from an article by Burnside on whether to trade Mats in which he comes to a similar conclusion as myself: JFJ is in a tough position at the trade deadline and he will have to reconcile what's best for the organization with what will help him keep his job.
The implication with regards to Raycroft is that he is not able to be a top-level goalie. He purposely compares them to last year's finalists and one of the vanquished semi-finalists in order to make his point. Now I could argue that Roloson is running out of gas and even he will not morph into last year's playoff version or that playing behind two top teams in the East might help Miller and Ward put up numbers (at least when their teams are playing well, when they are not those two are much closer to the average). The truth is that this season Raycroft has not matched those three. However, if you look a little closer you can see the morphing taking place. Below is a table of each goalies performance since the New Year: