Downfalls and Upswings

Justin Goldman

2008-02-18

Martin Biron

 

There’s quite a thin line between heaven and hell for NHL players and teams right now. One day you’re your sittin’ pretty nestled in the playoffs and the next you’re buried in the trenches digging for air. As a result, you can almost feel the level of intensity on your skin like a thick London fog. Instead of just casually looking to see where your favorite team is in the standings, you’re actually taking the time to look at where they could sit at the end of the night.

 

This is the time of year when you’re forced to battle internally on whether to root for your favorite team or betray yourself and go for the fantasy points. And don’t deny it – you often fall victim to the merciless torture of being both the betrayer and the betrayed.

 

Nevertheless, it sure is fun. Not so much for three of the league’s best goalies this year however, as they have all but nosedived, crashed and burned in the last week. Yet sure enough, there’s a steadfast set of goalies that have done just the opposite – raised their level of play and helped their team to catch fire. So here’s my list of three goalies on the downfall and three that are skyrocketing.

DOWNFALLS:

1.    Chris Osgood – It’s not hard to put up pretty stats when you backstop the Detroit Red Wings, but somehow in the last week he’s been pulled three times, has an inflated goals-against average that would disgust you and on top of it all, he’s stuck right in the middle of the team’s six-game losing streak. He didn’t start against Dallas – a team he’s completely dominated in his career – on Sunday (I dare you to find a goalie who is more successful than Osgood is against Dallas) so he’s fully aware of the expectations to rebound against Colorado on Monday and showcase that so-called veteran leadership. If he doesn’t, things could get ugly in Motown.

2.    Ryan Miller – By far the hottest goalie in February with an 8-3-1 record in his last 12 games, Miller totally gave up the ghost over the weekend. He allowed four goals on just 11 shots against the Rangers on Saturday and followed it up by allowing two goals on two shots against the Penguins en route to a 4-1 loss. Although it’s only a pair of weekend games, there’s no room to duplicate that kind of output again, so Miller must bounce back quickly. It’s going to be a tough task though, because he’s struggling mentally more than anything else. He’s totally over-committing on plays and he’s getting caught out of position when forced to move side-to-side.

3.    Martin Biron – It was smooth sailing for Biron all season long leading up to February. But since a 27-save shutout against the Anaheim Ducks on the 2nd, Biron has lost four straight games and allowed 15 goals against in that span. The Flyers are in a free-all and it continued to spiral out of control with a set of crucial losses to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday. Biron watched from the bench as Carey Price notched his first-career shutout and Antero Niittymaki start both back-to-back games. Although he’s developed a great reputation so far as a solid starting goaltende