Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Time To Give Gudmandson The Keys To The Car

I don't think that there is any question about it. At some point, Mike Eaves and the rest of the Badger coaching staff is going to have to find a go-to goaltender to lead the cardinal and white into the battle that is the NCAA Tournament.

In my humble opinion, the time to make the choice is right now. It's time for Coach Eaves to have a meeting with Junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson and tell him that he has the key's to the Badgers car.

Taking a look at the upcoming Wisconsin schedule, we've got five weekends (9 games) of hockey left before we start the WCHA Playoffs. The biggest problem for this seasons Badger squad has been finding a level of consistency. I feel that consistency starts in goal and works it's way out from there.

We've had three weekends of WCHA action in a row where we got a good solid goaltending performance on Friday night, and a poor one on Saturday. (I understand Gudmandson started one of the Saturday games).

Since Brett Bennett has come back from his injury, he has not played well, and admitted in the papers that he was not focused this past Saturday in Duluth. "It's been tough," Bennett said. "I've got to get better. I've got to mentally prepare better.

You would have to be borderline blind not to realize that Gudmandson has clearly had the better season for the Badgers. The difference between Gudmandsons .919 save percentage and Bennett's .896 is like night and day.

Another nugget suggesting that we need to go to Gudmandson full time was this quote from Bennett, "It's weird. I don't know how to explain it. You're almost out of rhythm with so much time between games and stuff."

The Badgers only have one game this week, obviously the Camp Randall Classic, until a weekend series in Madison against Minnesota State. With Bennett fully admitting that it's hard for him to concentrate and be in rhythm without regular playing time, do you trust playing him on Saturday night (2/13) after his only action in the previous 20 days was giving up two weak goals on three shots in an important series in Duluth?

I feel that goaltending is one of the most important factors in winning an NCAA title and for as long as I can remember, there has only been one team to win an NCAA title rotating goaltenders (05 Denver). Last season BU won a title with Kieran Millan playing 35 games for the Terriers. The year before BC won a title by playing John Muse in ALL 44 games BC played. The year before Michigan State rode Jeff Lerg to a title, and before that the Badgers relied on Brian Elliott. Even in 2005 when Denver rotated goaltenders all year, when it came to crunch time, they went with Peter Manino in both Frozen Four games.

To wrap this thing up, to me it's clear that we need to give Gudmandson the vote of confidence and name him our starting goaltender. I was fine with the rotation until Bennett stopped holding up his end of the bargain. It's time to get serious about this thing.

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