by PuckStopsHere on 01/20/10 at 12:41 PM ET
Every season since I started to blog, I picked out one team that could improve the most if they added a top level goaltender. Since a goaltending is the player that has the biggest impact on a team`s success, it is quite likely that this team will have a big jump in success if they do find that goalie. This happened in 2005/06 when Edmonton added Dwayne Roloson at the trade deadline and went to the Stanley Cup finals. Last year, my pick was the Detroit Red Wings. They were a very good team last year that struggled much of the season in goal due to a poor regular season from Chris Osgood. They were a team one top goalie short of being an elite team. Detroit never added that goalie and nevertheless went to the finals and lost. Osgood played much better in his playoff run than he did in the regular season.
Ironically, this year`s Detroit team seems to have found their goalie in Jim Howard, but the team in front of him is not nearly as good due to a combination of player losses, injury and age related decline.
This year`s team that is most in need of adding a goalie is the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa is currently sitting in fifth place in the East Conference with a 26-25 record (and four regulation tie points). They have more games played than most teams in the league. As a result, their position in the standings (by points) is likely inflated by a couple positions, but they look like a likely playoff team. Ottawa allows the third lowest shots per game (at 28 per game) but is 19th in goals against (with 2.80 per game). They are a clear example of a team that could make a significant jump in the standings with top goaltending.
Ottawa`s goaltending has been shared by Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire. Neither is having a strong season. Elliott has the better numbers of the two with a .899 saves percentage and a 2.76 GAA. Leclaire has a .890 saves percentage and a 3.07 GAA. Both are among the ten worst goalies in the league when sorted by saves percentage.
Ottawa is a team in position to show a big improvement if they can add a strong goalie. They might find themselves able to make a strong playoff run if they can find one. As such they are a team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. There is potential that the right trade could be a significant improvement for the team.
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