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Backups that should have been starters

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Old
12-10-2013, 08:59 PM
  #1
Strong Island
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Backups that should have been starters

After watching another pathetic performance tonight by Marty Brodeur, a thought came to me. Brodeur is currently sporting a .898 sv% while Cory Schneider (his "backup") has a .920 sv%.

I was wondering: what are some of the most obvious cases of coaches/organizations playing an inferior goaltender too much when they have a more talented second goaltender splitting starts or serving as a backup? For this purpose, I'm thinking at least a 50/30 type split for starts.

A few instances immediately come to mind such as Dallas' goaltending in 01-02 and 02-03 with Turco, and Buffalo in 93-94 with Hasek/Fuhr. I also know that Mike Keenan was notoriously bad at recognizing goalie talent, so perhaps some of his tandems would make this list.

I hope I was clear in describing what I am looking for and I look forward to everyone's thoughts.

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12-10-2013, 09:07 PM
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Bear of Bad News
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Island View Post
A few instances immediately come to mind such as Dallas' goaltending in 01-02 and 02-03 with Turco,
(I'm assuming that you mean 2000-01 and 2001-02, since in 2002-03 Turco was the clear starter over Ron Tugnutt).

In 2001-02, I agree. In 2000-01, I'm not so sure. Yes, Turco out-save percentaged Belfour, 0.925 to 0.905. However:

http://hockeygoalies.org/bio/nhl/dallas.html

It's clear (to me at least) that they were sheltering the rookie with his appearances. Belfour's average opponent was 0.12 goals better than average, and Turco's average opponent was 0.37 goals worse than average. If you look here:

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...php?p=73973071

You'll see that (since 1984-85) that's the fifth-highest differential between a team's two goaltenders.

In 2001-02, Belfour and Turco played similar schedules (measured both by SoS and OS%+) but Turco's save percentage advantage increased (not decreased). Rightly so, the Stars then made the choice to stick with the (cheaper and better) Turco (even though Belfour had a resurgence in Toronto).

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12-10-2013, 09:28 PM
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Strong Island
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Originally Posted by Chalupa Batman View Post
(I'm assuming that you mean 2000-01 and 2001-02, since in 2002-03 Turco was the clear starter over Ron Tugnutt).

In 2001-02, I agree. In 2000-01, I'm not so sure. Yes, Turco out-save percentaged Belfour, 0.925 to 0.905. However:

http://hockeygoalies.org/bio/nhl/dallas.html

It's clear (to me at least) that they were sheltering the rookie with his appearances. Belfour's average opponent was 0.12 goals better than average, and Turco's average opponent was 0.37 goals worse than average. If you look here:

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...php?p=73973071

You'll see that (since 1984-85) that's the fifth-highest differential between a team's two goaltenders.

In 2001-02, Belfour and Turco played similar schedules (measured both by SoS and OS%+) but Turco's save percentage advantage increased (not decreased). Rightly so, the Stars then made the choice to stick with the (cheaper and better) Turco (even though Belfour had a resurgence in Toronto).
With Dallas in 02-03 I just meant it in the sense that Tugnutt played as much as 30 games while Turco was so far and away better - in short, Turco probably should have started 60+ games that year and that probably cost the Stars the President's trophy (if anyone puts much stake into that). From what I remember from that year, Turco was not the clear starter there at the beginning of the year and that Tugnutt was brought in specifically to split starts with Turco.

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12-11-2013, 05:12 PM
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Big Phil
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You could make an argument on either side of the Gump Worsley/Rogie Vachon tandem in the late 1960s. But I guess the Habs did well either way.

1979 with the Bruins, I know Cheevers was normally not stellar against the Habs but they probably should have stuck with either him or Gilbert for good in that series rather than flip flopping them. Although if I were in Cherry's shoes then who knows.

Also, I have no idea why Hextall was sitting on the bench for most of the 1997 playoffs while Garth Snow played a much bigger role.

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12-11-2013, 06:01 PM
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Killion
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You could make an argument on either side of the Gump Worsley/Rogie Vachon tandem in the late 1960s. But I guess the Habs did well either way.
They did indeed, and thats an interesting example as youve also got Charlie Hodge in the mix, and a terrific goaltender he was. For several seasons prior to Vachon (heralded as the "next one") bounced back & forth between Worsley & Hodge in terms of workload. 1963/64, first year of this tandem in Montreal Hodge played 62 games to Worsleys 8. Following season (64/65) Hodge again with 53 starts to Worsleys 9, splitting the Playoffs, Hodge with 5 starts to Worsleys 8 on their way to a Stanley Cup. The next year (65/66) Worsley getting the lions share of regular season starts with 51 to Hodges 26, Gump playing in all Playoff Games, another Stanley Cup and then in 1966/67 Hodge again gets the lions share of regular season starts with 37 to Worsleys 18 & Rogie Vachons 19, and in the Playoffs, Vachon getting 9 starts to Worsleys 2, Hodge getting none at all.

Obviously Blake had more confidence in Worsley in big games, proven money player, but still, Hodge was no slouch either, yet he essentially sat out the Playoffs beyond 1965. This was a high quality goaltender & in as much as I love the Gumpster, Hodge could be equally impressive (if not more so in some instances, indeed, I preferred his style to Worsleys). So theres a case where a goalie wasnt really a backup but he might as well have been given no chance to get in the game during the Playoffs barring an injury to Worsley. Then Vachon comes along in 66. Hodge doing all the heavy lifting during the regular season with 37 starts, and though the Habs lost to the Leafs in the spring of 1967 Vachon having only played 19 games & Worsley with 18 those two get the nod over Hodge, the guy who brought the Girl to the Dance in the first place. Just aint fair. Charlie shoulda been given the opportunity however, I guess I shoudnt second guess Toe Blake. Man forgot more about the game than all of us put together could ever hope to know.

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12-11-2013, 06:43 PM
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2008-09 Chris Osgood and Conklin tandem

Kipprusoff last year for the Flames

Do playoffs count? Obviously Fleury + Vokoun would fit in that category

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12-11-2013, 11:40 PM
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Hasek/Belfour. Although what coach could have predicted how great Hasek would have been?

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12-12-2013, 12:21 AM
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For arguments sake, I'll throw in Edwards over Liut in the deciding game of the 81 Canada Cup. Would it have made a difference?

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12-12-2013, 12:43 AM
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For arguments sake, I'll throw in Edwards over Liut in the deciding game of the 81 Canada Cup. Would it have made a difference?
I dont remember the game, but looked up the score. 8-1 for the Soviets. Total blowout. Did Liut play the whole game? Wasnt given the hook? Score like that, obviously the Canucks completely cratered. Imploded.... Edwards had played the Soviets in an Exhibition with his Sabres in 1980, winning 6-1. He did comment that he relished the opportunity, that game the highlight of his career so I guess its possible he'd have made a difference. Certainly very passionate. But 8-1? Thats a complete team breakdown. And if it wasnt, if Liut was a sieve that night youd have thought he'd have been yanked.

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12-12-2013, 01:20 AM
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Lonny Bohonos
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Pete Peeters and Al Jensen.

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12-12-2013, 02:49 AM
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Schneider was better or on par with Luongo for the last two or three years in Vancouver but only got to be a starter, or a split starter, in the last lockout season, so he's still only played 33 games at most in a season. If Schneider gets to start the Kings series in 12 and D Sedin is in healthy, Vancouver would have given the Kings a run for it. Luongo is a good goalie though with excellent seasons behind him, so it's hard to say who's more "talented". Same with Brodeur, Schneider is better now but he wouldn't have had a chance at that job if Brodeur was 31 instead of 41.

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12-12-2013, 08:56 AM
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How about Richter and Vanbiesbrouck for the Rangers back in the late 80's and early 90's or where they Co #1's?

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12-12-2013, 10:17 AM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatname View Post
Hasek/Belfour. Although what coach could have predicted how great Hasek would have been?
Everybody knew Hasek would become a starter, but of course (as you say) no one knew just how good he would become.
For once that is a situation after 1990 or so I can take Keenan in defence. He tried to aquire Lindros that summer for a package of Belfour and (rumoured) Steve Larmer and Steve Smith. When Quebec also wanted 5 million dollars Wirtz said no. Money he would have gotten back quick from merchandise...
Lindros, Roenick, Hasek, Chelios... That´s something to build on all right... And Quebec would have gotten their starter alot sooner...

Therefore Keenan parted with Hasek to Buffalo, who had wanted to trade for him for half a year at least. And part of the trade was Keenan not wanting to lose one of Hasek, Belfour or a highly drafted Jimmy Waite for nothing in the expansion draft. If they only found a trade for Waite instead... Or a trade for Belfour, who would have gotten a lot more back - even if not Lindros.
ARHG! Even when Keenan was on his way to do it right, he messed up...

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12-12-2013, 11:04 AM
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Looking more into this, Kevin Weekes was on both sides of this type of situation.

In 02-03 he posted a .912 sv%; significantly outperforming Irbe who had a pathetic .877 sv%. It's amazing that Irbe got over 30 starts that season considering the remarkable difference in talent.

3 years later, Weekes was signed to split time with hot shot prospect Henrik Lundqvist for the 05-06 season. In 30+ starts he had a .895 sv% while Lundqvist sported a .922 sv%. A late season collapse (and a Devils 10 game winning streak) notwithstanding, playing Weekes so much probably cost the Rangers the division title and home ice advantage in the first round.

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12-12-2013, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Island View Post
Looking more into this, Kevin Weekes was on both sides of this type of situation.

In 02-03 he posted a .912 sv%; significantly outperforming Irbe who had a pathetic .877 sv%. It's amazing that Irbe got over 30 starts that season considering the remarkable difference in talent.

3 years later, Weekes was signed to split time with hot shot prospect Henrik Lundqvist for the 05-06 season. In 30+ starts he had a .895 sv% while Lundqvist sported a .922 sv%. A late season collapse (and a Devils 10 game winning streak) notwithstanding, playing Weekes so much probably cost the Rangers the division title and home ice advantage in the first round.
Dont know. Was Weekes really more talented that Irbe?

Irbes biggest (no pun intended) problem was his size.


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12-12-2013, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Island View Post
Looking more into this, Kevin Weekes was on both sides of this type of situation.

In 02-03 he posted a .912 sv%; significantly outperforming Irbe who had a pathetic .877 sv%. It's amazing that Irbe got over 30 starts that season considering the remarkable difference in talent.
Weekes played a slightly tougher schedule than Irbe, too.

Weekes was nominally the starter (by games played), but the pattern of games played is odd:
October: Weekes 9, Irbe 3
November: Weekes 11, Irbe 4
December: Weekes 4, Irbe 9
January: Weekes 8, Irbe 9
February: Weekes 9, Irbe 3
March: Weekes 10, Irbe 3, Desrochers 2
April: Weekes 0, Irbe 3

(All totals - and any errors - are from my site; links above)

Irbe didn't play a single game between October 23 and November 23. Then Weekes didn't play a single game between November 29 and December 20. Paul Maurice looks to have been riding the hot goalie, but if you look at the string of Irbe's consecutive games, I'm not sure what he was thinking (Irbe didn't look "hot").

I don't have a record of injury for either goaltender (not that there wasn't one - although I'd love to know about it).

This was Irbe's age-35 season, and although he did great for Latvia in subsequent Worlds, this was his last real hurrah as an NHL goaltender.

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12-12-2013, 02:07 PM
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I dont remember the game, but looked up the score. 8-1 for the Soviets. Total blowout. Did Liut play the whole game? Wasnt given the hook? Score like that, obviously the Canucks completely cratered. Imploded.... Edwards had played the Soviets in an Exhibition with his Sabres in 1980, winning 6-1. He did comment that he relished the opportunity, that game the highlight of his career so I guess its possible he'd have made a difference. Certainly very passionate. But 8-1? Thats a complete team breakdown. And if it wasnt, if Liut was a sieve that night youd have thought he'd have been yanked.
Liut was a sieve that night. The team gave up after he allowed some bad goals . Edwards did beat the Soviets in the regulation round game, but I believe Myskin, not Tretiak started.

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12-12-2013, 02:55 PM
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Liut was a sieve that night. The team gave up after he allowed some bad goals . Edwards did beat the Soviets in the regulation round game, but I believe Myskin, not Tretiak started.
Well thats interesting then. Team was coached by Scotty Bowman, Al MacNeil, Red Berenson & Pierre Page. Im assuming those 3 behind Bowman would have been deferential, that Scottys' in charge, yet how to explain that one? Bowman you'd think wouldve pulled Liut after the 2nd smoker, so perhaps Berenson there, Liuts Coach in St.Louis stuck his nose in & somehow convinced Scotty that his guy was going to shake it off "no problem" huh? Standing up for his player yet doing so at the expense of the team and in a very critical game. Im not saying thats what happened but its possible, would explain why Liut was left in there though why he himself after realizing his game was brutal that night didnt go over to the bench & pull himself... well, some guys just arent built that way obviously. Pride. Goeth before the fall.

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12-12-2013, 05:09 PM
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For arguments sake, I'll throw in Edwards over Liut in the deciding game of the 81 Canada Cup. Would it have made a difference?
I doubt the game ends up 8-1. Edwards had beaten the Soviets 7-3 in the round robin game. Now, the Soviets were very much playing possum by not going all out that game. Sort of gave Canada a boost, but as Canadians we knew one thing about the mysterious Russians, they were mysterious and you could never "get" their angle.

Liut was the best goalie in the game in 1981. Bowman was the coach and I get the feeling that if he had stayed with Edwards - his goalie in Buffalo - and lost then there would have been heads rolling. I've always wondered if that played a key role. Not to mention Billy Smith also being injured. I would like to think a guy on the best team in the NHL with two straight Cups would have played over Liut or Edwards. Not sure the result makes a difference. Canada still loses probably. I just couldn't see Smith being in net for an 8-1 drubbing. To be honest, Liut in his whole career never really had other games where he played that bad, but no one ever forgot 1981.

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12-12-2013, 05:41 PM
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I doubt the game ends up 8-1. Edwards had beaten the Soviets 7-3 in the round robin game. Now, the Soviets were very much playing possum by not going all out that game. Sort of gave Canada a boost, but as Canadians we knew one thing about the mysterious Russians, they were mysterious and you could never "get" their angle.
"Playing possum"? Ive never heard of a hockey team doing that no matter where their from. Play to win just naturally. You suggesting Tikhonov & Yurzinov deliberately & subversively submarined their own team in the qualifying round? He & the players had too much pride & self respect for that surely Phil. Its a hockey not a Chess Tournament where you might play head games like that. Im not saying its impossible but it surely strikes me as being improbable. Why would they play with fire like that? You would have to be beyond arrogant to think you could manipulate the format by deliberately tanking a game & then facing so formidable a foe as Team Canada. Weve all seen teams let up when the scores out of reach & just sort of fall into a defensive shell or play keepaway but I cant recall a time nor ever hearing of a team deliberately losing... certainly an interesting theory but I have my doubts. Pretty risky huh?... and yes, that certainly is a head scratcher. Why Bowman left Liut in between the pipes when it was pretty clear the guys mind was elsewhere, out to lunch, gone fishin. He had nothing to lose & much to gain by yanking Liut & putting in Edwards. Ya reckon Red Berenson had something to do with it?


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12-12-2013, 08:42 PM
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For the Canucks :

- Felix Potvin starting ahead of Bob Essensa for most of the 2000-01 season. Got to the point where they were actually giving Potvin the games against bottom-feeders in an attempt to pad his stats and build his confidence.

- McLean/Snow/Burke ahead of Arturs Irbe in 1997-98. Neither Renney nor Keenan liked Irbe at all, and basically played him only by default. But that horrible team was actually a winning one (14-11-6) with Irbe in net while being historically bad (11-32-8) behind anyone else. The team then proceeded to release Irbe after the season (and he promptly went on to star in Carolina) and goaltending problems continued for another 8 years until Luongo was acquired.

- in the Canucks' inaugural 1970-71 season, an ancient Charlie Hodge was very good (15-13-5, 3.42) and minor-league journeyman George Gardner wasn't bad (6-8-1, 3.38) ... but for some reason the team gave the majority of the starts to Dunc Wilson, who was a ghastly 3-25-2 with a 4.29 GAA and save % in the .870s. I guess he was the youngest guy and they were probably playing him for his potential ... but it probably cost the team making the playoffs in their first season.

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12-12-2013, 09:52 PM
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BP and Killion:

I have read somewhere that the Russians did 'play possum' in that RR game. Can't recall the source. I also read that Tikonov deliberately tried to antagonize Lafleur because he knew he could get to Lafleur; and he deliberately left Gretzky alone because he knew he couldn't get to Gretzky. So it appears that Tikonov's knowledge of psychology nullified one of the better Canadian weapons (Lafleur) and did nothing to motivate the best Canadian weapons Gretzky. I think you have a psychological advantage when one side perceives you as mysterious, which the Canadians did of the Russians. But doesn't it go both ways? Maybe Tikonov just had a better knowledge of psychology than Bowman? Or maybe that 'playing possum' added to the pressure the Canadians felt having to win on home ice?

As for Bowman's choice of Liut, I can certainly see that had he chosen Edwards and he bombed how bad it would have made him look. I had forgotten that Smith was injured. Too bad he was. I think given his recent success, he would have been the ideal choice.

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12-12-2013, 11:35 PM
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I have read somewhere that the Russians did 'play possum' in that RR game. Can't recall the source.
Was he playing "possum" or just playing "head games", hoping & Coaching to win regardless? Big difference. If he deliberately tanked his team then I have little to zero respect for Viktor Tikhonov. He was a product of his generation & the Soviet system, a tyrant, but I've generally been able to see past all of that & afford him the respect he deserves. But if its true that he Coached without a care in the world about the win, just deliberately subverted the course of a game, any game, pulling stunts like that then boy, all I can say is that thats an all time new low.

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12-13-2013, 05:28 AM
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Liut was the best goalie in the game in 1981. Bowman was the coach and I get the feeling that if he had stayed with Edwards - his goalie in Buffalo - and lost then there would have been heads rolling. I've always wondered if that played a key role. Not to mention Billy Smith also being injured. I would like to think a guy on the best team in the NHL with two straight Cups would have played over Liut or Edwards. Not sure the result makes a difference. Canada still loses probably. I just couldn't see Smith being in net for an 8-1 drubbing. To be honest, Liut in his whole career never really had other games where he played that bad, but no one ever forgot 1981.
You're not? Well, I am (that it doesn't)

Too bad it wasn't best-of-three, though. Could've Canada come back from that? It would've been very tough - especially with Tretiak playing like that (and the rest of the team wasn't too shabby either).

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12-13-2013, 09:40 AM
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For the Canucks :

- Felix Potvin starting ahead of Bob Essensa for most of the 2000-01 season. Got to the point where they were actually giving Potvin the games against bottom-feeders in an attempt to pad his stats and build his confidence.

- McLean/Snow/Burke ahead of Arturs Irbe in 1997-98. Neither Renney nor Keenan liked Irbe at all, and basically played him only by default. But that horrible team was actually a winning one (14-11-6) with Irbe in net while being historically bad (11-32-8) behind anyone else. The team then proceeded to release Irbe after the season (and he promptly went on to star in Carolina) and goaltending problems continued for another 8 years until Luongo was acquired.

- in the Canucks' inaugural 1970-71 season, an ancient Charlie Hodge was very good (15-13-5, 3.42) and minor-league journeyman George Gardner wasn't bad (6-8-1, 3.38) ... but for some reason the team gave the majority of the starts to Dunc Wilson, who was a ghastly 3-25-2 with a 4.29 GAA and save % in the .870s. I guess he was the youngest guy and they were probably playing him for his potential ... but it probably cost the team making the playoffs in their first season.
I checked back to see if there wasn't some season were a backup would have been better than Cloutier, but other than some Skudra type guys with a small sample size of games, none were apparent. That's how bad the Canucks' goaltending sucked in those days.

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