Some of the best scoring teams in the NHL have good goaltending. No, make that excellent goaltending. It is the reason they can score a lot of goals. Confused? Allow me to explain.
The 1999-2000 Toronto Maple Leafs did not have a lot of talented goal scorers. Outside of Captain Mats Sundin, the Leafs had a lot of players that don’t necessarily scare the daylights out of opposing goaltenders. But that season, the Buds scored 246 goals, five shy of the defensive-minded New Jersey Devils for most in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs would go on to a Northeast Division title.
But how come the Devils and Leafs end up finishing one-and-two in goals scored? The answer: goaltending. Namely Martin Brodeur and Curtis Joseph respectively. I have no scientific evidence to back it up. But what I do know is players are willing to take more chances in the offensive end without the fear of giving up an odd-man rush the other way if they have a goaltender who can stop anything that comes their way. The result sees players finding ways to get open more and that results in more goals being scored. Patrick Roy, Eddie Belfour, and Dominic Hasek are just 3 other goaltenders who fit the bill.
On the other side, if a team has suspect or inexperienced goaltending, they will not take as many chances and focus more on keeping the puck out of their own end. No better example of having my theory on display than the current Maple Leafs team. James Reimer is without question the better than Jonathan Bernier. Leafs players seem more confident when Reimer is in net and therefore you see them generate lots of scoring chances and not worrying about coughing up the puck and giving the other team a scoring chance the other way. Bernier has been playing well of late but at the start of the season he couldn’t stop a puck if his life depended on it. You hardly saw forwards try and make outlets passes to the other side of centre for fear of turning it over.
Yeah, having a guy like Steven Stamkos would help a team that is having trouble putting pucks in the net. But even a great goal scorer can’t win you games if his goalie can’t stop pucks from going into their net. Perhaps before throwing money to that soon-to-be free agent forward, maybe put some of that towards a backstopper.