Apr 24, 2002
There are many teams and many players in every professional sport that are overrated. The Eric Lindros effect on the Rangers was overrated. The promise of Alexander Daigle was overrated. The Sedin Twins were figured out and overrated. Granted there are those in this league that are all they are cracked up to be, and due to time and unforeseen pucks to the foot, have not been filled their potential. Peter Forsberg, chronic with injury, when he plays a shift his presence is felt. He makes a difference every shift. Michael Peca and Alexei Yashin have catapulted the Islanders into the playoffs. For Yashin this is the second team he has done this for.
Goalies are similar. There are the overrated, the constants and the difference makers. Roy is your go to guy. It is safe to say that on a game seven Stanley Cup final game 4 seconds left game tied and 4 seconds left with a penalty shot, you want Roy in goal for you. The overrated goalies are ones who play phenomenally or terribly with no in between. They may be a little to good for the minors but are drowning in the majors.
Brian Boucher is this goalie. Outside his rookie year when he backstopped the Flyers into round three of the playoffs, what has he done that should keep him in the NHL outside getting an NHL contract? Nothing. He went from goalie king to goalie goat faster than you can say Roy. After those playoff games the teams around the league solved Boucher. Shoot from where he can see you shoot. Don't get close, don't fight for a goal around the net, he can stop the miraculous, but the fluke and the stoppable, he just lets in. An oxymoron? Yes. A reality? Yes.
As a result of not correcting his skill to adjust to the play of others, Boucher has continued to play his style and was effectively and expediently moved to backup. With the addition of Bill Barber as head coach then Boucher would likely stay as backup goaltender for the Flyers. Barber had worked with Boucher before with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, when Barber and goaltender Neil Little led the Phantoms to the Calder Cup Championship. Boucher was the backup then, when it was the worst kept secret that Barber wasn't confident in Boucher's abilities. So with one playoff run under his pro belt and then successive ups and downs why would he have faith in him now?
This is why in the playoffs Chechmanek won the starting goalie position, and when it was discovered that he had re-injured his ankle, they still let him start. How little faith must a coach have in his backup that he would allow his goaltender to play hurt than bench him?
Another goalie that is beginning to show his colors is Martin Brodeur. A theory that this writer is starting to develop is that Brodeur could be the most overrated goalie in the league. When the Devils defense totally shuts down, so does Brodeur. Exactly how dependant can the team be on him to steal a game for them if they aren't on top of their games. It would seem that on more than one occasion that he had given up the moment his defense wasn't trapping. Last year's Stanley Cup Finals was said to have been stolen by Patrick Roy for Raymond Bourque. As a defending Cup champ wouldn't you think Brodeur would have wanted to repeat and prove his legitimacy more important than any reason Roy could use as motivation?
Yet as we all know, sports are unpredictable as well as the success of any athlete. Scouts and observers can only see the potential of an athlete and speculate where they will go from there. Often times the right time and place will help foster an athlete's growth or stifle it. In these cases they were either in the right place at the right time (Brodeur) or should have been starting in a different place where pressure isn't so overwhelming (Boucher). Either way the Flyers are in a playoff series without any goals and without faith in their backup backstopper and the Devils - well, the Devils are playing the Hurricanes.
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