John Madden of the Blackhawks is finding time to stir things up.
Right in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals, he managed to take a shot at the Devils, his old team, calling the 2009-10 Blackhawks the best team he’s ever played for:
This team is way deeper. Just take a look at the lineup…This is a different type of team, too. Those [Devils] teams were pre-lockout teams. This is post-lockout. There is a lot more skill, a lot more speed. It’s totally different than any team I’ve ever played on, that’s for sure.
I get what Madden is saying in terms of depth and speed and skill (although back in the day, Madden was actually quite fast) in Chicago, but how can he not miss goalie Martin Brodeur? The Blackhawks have one vulnerability, but it’s a huge one: goaltending.
Antti Niemi has looked completely incapable of blocking a shot into the corners. He seems to prefer sending everything to one of the faceoff circles.
It’s interesting, though, that when you’re dealing with two average goaltenders and two teams running relatively offensive systems, goaltending isn’t as vital as it was in the NHL’s more defensive moments. Which is why Madden isn’t preoccupied with the quality of his team’s goaltending. It’s just not as big an issue as it was when Madden played for New Jersey.
Having said that, I think both the Flyers and Blackhawks would have a lot of trouble against a disciplined, defensive team with a strong goaltender.
And given how much fun this finals has been to watch, I hope the NHL is thinking about ways to prevent goalies from dominating games. Like maybe actually shrinking goalie equipment down to mid 90s size, instead of shaving a few meaningless inches off. Something like that would give just about every game more scoring and more exciting saves.
Smaller goalie equipment would make a lot more goalies play average. And, like Madden says, skill and speed would be a lot more valuable.