Choosing which goalie starts a game can sometimes be the most challenging item on a coach’s To-Do list. There are many questions involved in picking a starting netminder, and hindsight can often make it easy to pick apart a coach’s decision. The question of who to start gets even harder when it seems like a team has two talented goalies that should be able to handle playing a night of hockey.
The Tampa Bay Lightning expressed confidence when they traded for goalie Louis Domingue in November that they had found a solid #3 for their organization. The optimism increased when Domingue got his feet under him and helped to turn the Syracuse Crunch’s season around. When he was recalled on December 30th, Domingue was 9-4 with the Crunch, with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.
Since that recall three weeks ago, Domingue has played for the Lightning once. He won that game, making 34 saves on 36 shot for a 0.944 save percentage. He seems entirely capable for the NHL, and yet one could wonder if the coaching staff are, for some reason, reluctant to give him too much time. With the Lightning struggling — they’ve lost their last three games — one could wonder if it is time to give Domingue more starts.
Meanwhile, in Syracuse, young rookie Connor Ingram has been tasked with taking over the net in Domingue’s absence. He has started every game since Domingue’s recall. Originally it appeared Ingram was more than up to the challenge. He won the six games between December 30th, when Domingue was recalled, and January 13th, when Domingue was returned to Syracuse during the Lightning’s bye week. He certainly played his part in the Crunch’s continued success, and there is no need to downplay his role.
However, Ingram, and the Crunch, have fumbled a little. Exactly like Tampa, Syracuse has lost the last three games their #1 has started. No one should be blaming Ingram for the Crunch’s overall struggles, but some are starting to wonder why head coach Ben Groulx isn’t starting the current back up with the Crunch, Nick Riopel, a bit more.
Riopel was 9-9 for the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL before his call up to Syracuse, and many fans felt that he was the glue that held an ever-shifting roster together while he was there. He’s also a huge community-oriented player, a guy who often Tweets pictures of himself in Crunch workout gear even when he’s with the Thunder. He’s clearly proud of his connections to the organization in Syracuse, and although such passion certainly doesn’t guarantee AHL success, it could add to the growing case to play him.
So, what do YOU think? Is this an issue?
Are the backup goalies in the Tampa Bay Lightning system underutilized?
This poll is closed
Riopel and Domingue are great and deserve a chance!
There’s no issue with riding the starter, that’s their job!
Goalies are voodoo, let’s leave this alone!
Something else, let’s head to the comments!