Feb 11, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (35) reaches for the puck with his stick against the New York Rangers during the 2nd period at the Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers beat the Flyers, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE

Back-Up Goalie Talk

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

I am from the school of thought that there are certain positions in sports that having an efficient back-up is necessary to make your team more likely to have success. It doesn’t guarantee anything as there are no guarantees in sports, but it gives a team a fighting chance. These positions include the goaltender in hockey, the quarterback in football and the catcher in baseball. These positions are so crucial to a team that if the starter goes down and they don’t have an efficient back-up the season could be a mess. If every team could afford it, due to salary cap restrictions and budget limitations, I’m sure GM’s would tell you that they would like to have 2 legitimate starters at these positions on the roster at all times. The other issue that comes up with attempting to stock pile at a position is that the player would have to be willing to take a lesser role for the team when he could be a starter on another team. For these reasons you generally will not see all star caliber players at back-up in these positions. The trick to putting  a successful team together though is finding a not just serviceable, but an efficient back-up for these positions.

The back-up goalie in hockey has become ever more important as the years go on. Just like starting pitchers in the MLB goalies in the NHL are playing much fewer minutes (or innings in the pitchers case) then they did 20 years ago. That is why it is essential to have a solid back-up in this day and age in the NHL. Another reason is simply that your starting goalie will never play 82 games plus all the playoff games so he will need a spell every now and then. It’s also too risky to bet that your starter will make it through the entire season without battling an injury which forces him to miss any significant amount of time.

In the Flyers case its a different kind of circumstance. Bob is a solid back-up goalie and a marginal starter. In 2 full big league seasons, one of which he was the starter, he has a 2.73/.909 stat line. It’s a good line for a 2nd year goalie. He also went 28-13 the season he started. The problem is that somebody would give him a shot to start and I think the Flyers are willing to oblige. Bob is on the last year of a 3 year deal he signed in 2010. He will become a free agent next year and get signed for decent money most likely as a starter. That is why it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Flyers to trade either now or at the draft. We could most likely steal a low first round pick from a team for Bob and a 2nd round pick. The Flyers would be of good mind to do this and sign a veteran back-up to put behind Bryz. This will be A) cheaper then resigning Bob in free agency and B) better then having a young netminder behind Bryz because a veteran, hopefully, can be a calming influence for Bryz and at the same time push Bryz by challenging him for his job. The veteran back-up goalies around this league, like Marty Biron, have pushed a starting goalie for their job a time or two in their days. The end result will be Bryz as the starter no matter what, but this type of inter-team competition can be excellent especially for a goalie.

Bryz himself has played in an average of 63.2 games per season since he has been a true starter which would be since the 2007-08 season when he was claimed on waivers by the Yotes. Last season he played in 59 games. He does not need a whole lot of help and will carry the load of a true starting goalie so a veteran will not have to carry a heavy workload (besides having to talk to Bryz a lot). I would look in the direction of Dwayne Roloson and although he is not a true back-up goalie he is getting older and has been shaky in recent years as a starter so he may be willing to accept a lesser role on a good squad. He would of course also have to significantly lower his $3 million a year salary he received last season. Regardless of if its Roloson if the Flyers do trade Bob they should bring in a veteran netminder to hold down the position next year. I believe it will benefit not only Bryz, but the whole team should Bryz have issues next season with injuries or otherwise.

-John LaMarra

Twitter – @popesnipes77

E-Mail – [email protected]

Tags: Back-up Goalies Dwayne Roloson Ilya Bryzgalov Philadelphia Flyers Sergei Bobrovsky

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