Ah, the goalies. The team head case, the crazy guy willing to have 100 MPH bullets made of vulcanized rubber shot at his head on a nightly basis. Oh he of the strange routine to get into game mode, the weird, obsessive behaviors. Coaches are unwilling to discuss the performance of goaltenders, save to praise them, knowing that the slightest question in the goalie's head, and he's a hot mess.
The Wild have always had great goaltending, so Wild fans aren't even sure what a bad goalie looks like. This year was no exception, and the Wild are poised to have great goaltending for a long time.
How did the group fare as a whole? Make the jump and find out.
JS- GRADE: A- Not much more I can add to this than what's already been said in my assessment of the two goalies, but I feel I should explain why this grade is so high despite the Wild not making the playoffs. Quite simply put, the goaltending won the Wild games they had no business winning. The fact the Wild were outshot 69 times this season, sometimes by some very ugly margins, yet still won 36 of thoses games, as opposed to the 3 wins they got while outshooting the opponent, speaks volumes to the importance of the goaltending this year. By the way, fun fact, The Wild are the only team to have 0 games ended with the teams even in shots this year. Huh. Another fun fact: The Philadelphia Flyers? 0 shutouts this year, difference between them and the Wild though is that they're strong enough on offense and defense to not need their goalies to stand on their head every night. The Wild? Not so much. Cold hard fact: Goaltending this season gave the Wild hope every single game. For this low scoring team, goaltending was golden. No need for my mathematical mumbo-jumbo on this one.
Elise- GRADE: B- Not terrible, had its ups and downs, kept the Wild in some games they shouldn't have been in.
Dan- GRADE: B Not much to say really. Goaltending has always been a strength for the Wild and this season is no exception. Backstrom is a #1 goaltender while Theodore was looking to prove he can be a #1 (which he proved wonderfully)
Bryan- GRADE: B+ The goalies were studs yet again this year. They deserved much, much better support from their team, and they rarely got it. Run multiple times with little response from the team, left in a shooting gallery, and relied on to save the team on countless occasions, the goaltenders stood tall. Facing an average of 32 shots per game, Niklas Backstrom, Jose Theodore, and Anton Khudobin were by far the best part of this team this season, and had they been given a shred of support, the Wild would be in the dance, rather than on the golf course.
Nathan- GRADE: B+. There were nights where the goaltenders were definitely having some difficulties, but for the vast majority of the season, the goaltenders were the backbone of the season. They faced too many shots, didn't get enough offensive support, and even with a save percentage of .916 and a sub 2.70 GAA, they can't win games on their own.
Cumulative GPA: 3.20 B
Jose Theodore is likely on his way out, Dennis Endras is coming over from Germany, Matthew Hackett is doing well in Houston, and Darcy Kuemper completely owned in his final junior season. Niklas Backstrom is still playing well at the NHL level, despite what the vocal minority may espouse.
The Wild are well positioned in net for a good long time, save for any trades or other unforeseen events. Enjoy it while it lasts, Wild fans. Quit pretending like you don't have it better than 80% of the league, will ya?