Last year's Stanley Cup Finals, and the ensuing free agency period, seemed to send the message that world-class and, more importantly, world-class-priced goaltending was no longer a necessity for a playoff team.
Anaheim will bring at least one goaltender who cashes a modest check into the postseason, though their entire coterie has playoff experience. However, going into this season, they were, without a doubt, a team ready to depend on premiere goaltending. Daniel, how important do you think goaltending will be to the Ducks' playoff success?
I think that throughout our history, we have relied on phenomenal goaltending to get us through the playoffs. This year will be no different. I know people will look at the checks that Emery and Ellis are cashing and think they aren't world class goaltenders, but that just isn't the case. Emery has been to the finals, and Ellis was the number 1 guy in Nashville before he was displaced by a great goalie in Pekka Rinne. The Ducks have 3 guys on the roster who can carry them through the playoffs, at least in terms of quality of skill when not injured.
That's important, because they're going to need it. The Ducks are a very good team, but they always seem to need a big save to keep the game in their favor, or keep them in the game at all. Anaheim is still that team that is going to try to win a tight game. In tight games, you need your goaltending to be absolutely solid. Throughout the season, the Ducks have been at their best when the guy between the pipes makes some big saves and gives them a chance to win the game. That won't change this postseason. You might not need a world class goalie to get you to the Stanley Cup Finals, but whoever is in the net had better play like a world class goalie if you're going to go anywhere in the playoffs.
I think goaltending will be key for the Ducks to get out of the first round. If you're talking about going in there against Pekka Rinne and the Predators, it's hard to imagine there won't be an aspect of a goaltender's duel to any of the games.
Historically, yes, the Ducks have taken down great netminders. They've made Roberto Luongo look like Brian Elliott, but historically, they've also made Dwayne Roloson look like Roberto Luongo, so I don't know if history is going to ease the pressure on anyone on this team.
Ultimately, though, the team that relied on HIller for 40+ shots per game couldn't have made the playoffs. They had to improve, and they have. They're no longer the kind of squad that needs world class goaltending just to prevent a blowout, though, you're absolutely right, they'll need some big saves to get the wins. And both Ellis and Emery have shown the ability to deliver that.
The Ducks won't be able to get by on a dimestore performance in net, not against Pekka Rinne. However, this isn't the team that threw Hiller to the wolves every night, so the demand on these refurbished backstops may be well within their paygrade.