Forget about Avalanche coach Patrick Roy using Jean-Sebastian Giguere as a safety net come playoff time in case Semyon Varlamov implodes. There’s no way he can trust his backup goaltender after the season he has had.
Giguere’s struggles continued last night when he blew a 4-2 lead and end up taking another loss in the Avalanche’s 6-4 loss to the Kings at the Pepsi Center. The Kings scored three straight goals off him, and that was the end of the night. The sixth goal came from an empty-netter.
One has to wonder if Roy can trust Giguere at any point when he has to play him. He had to think last night was a throwaway game. One would think the Avalanche head coach would have started Varlamov against a great opponent, but with his starting goaltender still trying to get back in the groove after playing in the Olympics, he decided to start his backup goaltender. It was the same reason Kings coach Daryl Sutter started Martin Jones than starting Jonathan Quick in the nets.
Sutter at least could trust his backup goaltender. Jones made saves down the stretch in the third period by denying Gabriel Landeskog couple of times.
Roy wished he could say the same with Giguere. When Anze Kopitar cut the Kings’ deficit to 4-3 with a minute and four seconds later after Andre Benoit gave the Avalanche 4-2 lead in the second period, it was a harbinger of things to come. Jeff Carter finished the second period by tying the game at 4.
It could have been tempting for the first-year Avalanche coach to put his best goaltender in the game, but Roy knows he has to win the war before he can win the battle. He is not going to overwork his best goaltender or start his guy just to win a regular season game. He knows the deal.
He was hoping Giguere could have bounced back and have a strong third period. That never happened. Kopitar was able to find a hole that Giguere did not pay attention, and the Kings took a 5-4 lead. The Kings finished it up by Justin Williams scoring an empty-netter.
What’s frustrating for Giguere was all the three goals were goals he should have saved. Couple of goals came from him not paying attention, and another goal came from him losing grip of the puck. This is something he can’t blame his defense, which he is prone to do.
Giguere’s teammates took the blame by saying they did not give much support by giving Avalanche second chances rather than clearing the puck. That’s admirable, but even the Avalanche goaltender knows he should have stopped all three of those goals.
Roy did not have much to say. What can he say? He knows it’s pointless to rant on his backup when he knows what he gets out of his goaltender. He was empathetic by saying his team was rusty coming off a break.
Giguere is at a loss of what’s going on. He knows he is a better goaltender that he has showed, but it could be he is up there at age. He is 36 years old. His skills have been declined based on some of the games he has showed this year.
It wasn’t long ago he was a great goaltender. That was 10 years ago when he led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals on his brilliant play. He knows he is not the goaltender he used to be, but he feels he can still be serviceable. For whatever reason, it hasn’t happened. One wonders if it will.
With the Avalanche starting to get ready to be sharp heading to the playoffs, Giguere has to wonder how many more starts he will have. The Avalanche want to get home-ice advantage in the first round, and if Roy is going to use Varlamov often to start games, that’s what he is going to do. It’s about winning games, not getting the backup goaltender’s confidence back.
It is likely going to be Giguere’s last hurrah as the Avalanche goaltender. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and the Avalanche are likely going to find someone who can do better.
With a performance like last night, Giguere could be in his last days as a NHL player whether he accepts it or not.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter.