Columbus Blue Jackets: Goaltending Road Bumps Ahead

REALISTIC FAN: As was mentioned in a previous article, the goaltending situation for the Columbus Blue Jackets may not seem as rock solid as once thought.

DESPERATE FOR PLAYOFFS FAN: What?! No! We got rid of Mason! We have Borbovsky, ya know, Bob, the guy that won the vezina trophy for the best goalie in the NHL. Don’t tell me he’s hurt or something. And don’t you dare tell me he’s not going to have another stellar year. You’re such a downer!

REALISTIC FAN: We have Curtis McElhinney as our back-up goaltender.

DESPERATE FOR PLAYOFFS FAN: Oh, back-up goaltender? I forgot about that. Yeah, we could be in for some trouble…

REALISTIC FAN: Okay, that may be an exaggeration just a bit but you get the point. During an 82-regualr-season schedule, your back up goalie is a very important part of your team’s success. The main ingredient in a quality back up is experience. In my opinion, a veteran net minder is the best bet. Aside from what I just mentioned, they bring knowledge of the game to the table as well as the ability to help develop the starter.

The idea of two top dogs battling it out for a chance between the pipes doesn’t feel right to me. It messes with the chemistry of the team, in the present and moving forward as a unit. You need to know who the guy is in the cage, who the guy is come playoff time.

No, Curtis McElhinney won’t challenge Bobrovsky for playing time. Bob’s the guy for the job. But that doesn’t mean we should just have anybody back there. If that’s the case, dress me in hockey gear and let me set on the bench.

Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

I’m joking, obviously. (Not really, those would be cool seats). But you have to ask yourself, honestly: is the goaltending situation for the Columbus Blue Jackets really as secure as we think it is? We’re all passing that position by like there’s no doubt to it. And that’s understandable: Bobrovsky is in net. However, you have to keep in mind, he won’t get every start. And when he doesn’t, can we rely on McElhinney to provide “good enough” goaltending on a consistent basis?

He’s no 18 year old but it’s not as if McElhinney has a ton of NHL experience. Despite being in the league since the 2007-2008 season, he’s only played in 69 games. His sub .900 save percentage and 3.10 GAA don’t wake me up in the middle of the night sweating, per se, but they aren’t exactly comforting thoughts.

The situation isn’t as dire as I’m probably making it out to be, I’ll be the first to admit. But it’s definitely something worth thinking about. Teams worth anything rely heavily on their back up to bring them consistency while their all-star takes a breather. And while it’s too early to throw the McElhinney era out with the bathwater, it’s not too early to start looking towards the trade deadline for a veteran goalie.

Topics: Columbus Blue Jackets

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  • Sums

    If it’s one thing that doesn’t work, it’s having two stellar goaltenders fighting for a spot. Just ask Los Angeles how the Quick/Bernier era made the team uneasy about who was going to be in net. Or ask Vancovuer how they were always concerned about AV’s coin toss for Schneids or Lu, especially during their back-to-back President’s Trophy years, and the shared Jennings Trophy. Or ask St. Louis how they were always biting their nails waiting to hear if Elliott or Halak would start. And then there is Pittsburgh with Fleury and Vokoun last year, I bet they were always sweating bullets.

    Two stellar goaltenders in a tandem works. They need to push each other to succeed. If you’re going to have a vet goaltender on your roster, he should be your number 1 so he can mentor the young guy. If you do have a vet backup, a guy like Chris Mason, Ty Conklin, Marty Biron, Johan Hedberg, or Jason Labarbera, who are career backups with plenty of playing experience, are the ideal choices.

    The Free-Agent Goaltender market wasn’t very strong this summer, and McElhinny was essentially the best CBJ could get given their situation.

    • Tyler West

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article and comment. While we seem to disagree, I appreciate your comment.