Most successful teams are balanced with a great offense and a great defense. In all sports one player can make the difference, but overall balance is the plan. However, in hockey and football one position truly makes the difference for teams to succeed.
If an NFL team doesn’t have a great quarterback chances are the team isn’t still playing. Same with the NHL, to have success a team needs a goaltender. Not an average one either, a goalie that can anchor a team like Dominik Hasek did. In both sports teams need an elite star that can individually lead them to victory.
This weekend the Golden Boy will defend his title against the legendary Peyton Manning who is relatively beaten up but good enough to be there. On the NFC side, two QBs having career years will face off. Carson Palmer and Cam Newton are former Heisman winners and ready to win their first Super Bowls. They may not be the top four best QBs in the NFL, but they are some of football’s best. All four of them have a good chance of winning this year’s Lombardi trophy.
Now the NHL isn’t so far off. Most of today’s best teams have the leagues best goaltenders. Sure I know an NHL team needs a solid two-way center, a sniper, and a deep blue line. However, those teams are still backed up by the NHL’s best. Let’s take the LA Kings as an example. You could argue Drew Doughty, and Anze Kopitar are the best players at their position. Doughty and Kopitar will both tell you without their stud goalie Jonathon Quick they wouldn’t be two-time Stanley cup winners.
Over on the Eastern Conference Alexander Ovechkin gets all the praise for lighting up the lamp in DC, but he has a lot of help. Goaltender Braden Holtby is playing out of his mind and anchors the best team in the east. Down south the surprise Panthers are led by their thirty-six year old Vezina finalist goaltender Roberto Luongo. He’s always been a top tier goalie, but this season he has shown he’s still elite. Plus he’s always lead the NHL with his slick salad. This talented Florida team is geared up for a serious postseason run in front of Roberto. Here’s more on glorious heads of hair.
Some of you will argue that Corey Crawford isn’t a top tier goaltender. Hey, I understand the evidence is there. Joel Quennville has had to pull his starter on multiple occasions. Scott Darling has his own fan page thanks to a few stinkers from Crawford. Chicago is also loaded so Crawford doesn’t have to be the star like Carey Price in Montreal. Even after being pulled, Crawford was there at the end stopping Stamkos clappers.
If the trend continues, this year’s Stanley Cup winner will have a steady goaltender leading the charge. Keep in mind the 2012 Kings Cup winning team was an #8 seed. That’s when the Jonathan Quick show began, and it hasn’t stopped airing. LA proved seeding doesn’t matter in the playoffs, and a hot goalie is the key. That’s why teams like the Rangers, Bruins, Predators and Ducks still have a fighting chance in the playoffs. Their goaltenders give them a chance to win on most nights. So this when you’re watching the NFL playoffs, look at the four remaining quarterbacks and ask yourself a question. Would these four teams be playing without these QBs? Chances are no, and the same will be said come Stanley Cup time. The teams remaining will have an outstanding netminder.