I know a lot of fans, like myself, like to play the armchair coach role. We have favorite players and want them to succeed. I, personally, have about four or five I would consider my own personal starting lineup, but I digress.
Despite how much I might love Jacob Micflikier, or Mike Murphy, or Chris Terry, I love the team. I love the Charlotte Checkers, and I want them to go far in the playoffs, which aren’t far away at all. So if one of “my” guys isn’t doing well, then yes, for the success of the team, I’d prefer them to be benched in favor of the more productive players.
Right now, we are in the midst of what I fear will become a goaltending crisis. We’ve got two guys who have shared nearly the same number of starts, but come playoffs, is that going to fly? Do we keep rotating the goaltenders each night as we do now? That doesn’t usually work so well in a playoff setting.
With the future in mind, do we continue this not-quite-equal shared goalie starting business, or do we pick a “real” starter? Do we think about the future of the Hurricane’s organization (Pogge is in the final year of his contract, and is a UFA) or do we look to the future and Mike Murphy (he’s in the second year of his three-year entry level deal). There are a lot of variables, and the way the team has split the goaltending duties up this year does not make for an easy choice by the coaching staff.
If the playoffs started today, we would be meeting the Hershey Bears in the first round. The Bears have a stellar playoff
record. They’ve won countless Calder Cups in recent years, and are clearly a force to be feared in the playoffs. They’ve won the Calder Cup in three of the past five seasons, and played in the finals four of those five years. Our games against this likely first-round opponent have been quite dramatic. Pogge has been pulled/thrown out of two games (one resulted in 22 PIMs by a goaltender. Impressive!) Murphy’s record against the Bears is pretty good… he’s 3-2, and those two losses both came from games he played in relief of Pogge’s antics/temper tantrums/fights etc. Officially, Pogge is 0-1-1 against the Bears. His single loss was a close game, and he allowed only one goal and was the third star.
After the first round, if we win, we’d play either Norfolk or Wilkes-Barre. We have a pretty stellar record against Norfolk (7-2), and we will face them three more times, twice at home and once in Virginia. Our record against the baby Pens isn’t as good (1-3-1), and we face them twice more on the road. It will be very interesting to see who gets the starts in those games. Pogge has been pulled twice while facing the Penguins.
I’m not even going to speculate match ups beyond the second round. The Atlantic division comes into play, which could and probably will include a team from our own East division because of the way the AHL does the playoff bracket. The most interesting potential teams are in our own division anyway.
So I guess I just need to go back to my opening thought… how is our current path of drawing straws for who’s starting in net going to go over when playoff time rolls around. I’d love to hear other opinions on the matter…