The Flyers Playoff Goalie Solution

Ok, before i bore you to death, the answer is already playing for the team. His name is Robert Esche. You may disagree, but he has just as good a chance of succeeding (or a greater chance) than any goalies the flyers could acquire before the trade deadline.

Face it, Cechmanek was a great regular season goalie, but embarrassed himself once the playoffs rolled around. His erratic style was not sufficient to steal any games the flyers couldn’t win with offense. Almost any goalie in the league would be an improvement over that, except maybe Jeff Hackett. The Flyers couldnt spend years waiting for Cechmanek to be comfortable in the playoffs with their current lineup. They signed Hackett in the offseason, and to the displeasure of some, stuck with Esche and Hackett.

But why is Esche the goalie for the Flyers? Theres a simple answer, there are no goalies available that have had much more playoff success than Esche, who has only played half of one game. There’s talk of the Flyers acquiring Sean Burke, Olaf Kolzig, Nikolai Khabibulin, and now Roman Turek.

Burke has only made it past the first round once, about 16 years ago. Thats about as good a reason as any to not call him the playoff savior. Kolzig has only made it past the first round once, even though it was to the finals. However he has done very little in Washington since, especially in the playoffs. Khabibulin, available or not, also has only been past the first round once, but did not seem very stable. Tampa Bay most likely does not wish to trade him anyway. The pattern continues, Roman Turek has also only been past the first round once, with the Blues. The Blues traded him because of his performance in critical games. Not one of these goalies sounds like an improvement over Esche.

There are only four active goalies in the NHL that have ever won the Stanley Cup – Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, Chris Osgood, and Dominik Hasek. None of these goalies are available, except maybe Hasek, but he is too old and seems to have left his skill back home in the Czech Republic. Whats the point of making a goalie trade if you won’t get what you need?

Some would suggest Curtis Joseph, but after his current season, i think he would only hurt the Flyers, not help them. How many goalies are actually available? Not many.

Esche has had a great season so far, with one of the highest winning percentages in the NHL. Trading for a goalie would just disrupt his play, much like naming Cechmanek number one last year did. Until he shows hes not worthy, I don’t see the point of acquiring someone else.

With all the talk about the Flyers goaltending, why are other teams forgotten? The Avs will be using first timer David Aebischer. The RedWings may be using Manny Legace. Vancouver will still be with Dan Cloutier. Boston, the Islanders, Dallas, and Nashville would all be using inexperienced goalies, but no one ever comments on their situation.

Remember, no one ever expected Patrick Roy, Ron Hextall, or Jose Theodore to be any good either, but they were given a chance. Give Esche some credit, he’s gotten the Flyers to where they are now, but all anyone can talk about is who the Flyers are getting and when.

The way i see it, only 6 current playoff teams would have an advantage. Toronto, New Jersey, Montreal, San Jose, Ottawa, and St. Louis are the only teams with goalies that have played well in the playoffs. Until Esche shows a reason to sit him out, he should be the number one goalie.

41 Responses to The Flyers Playoff Goalie Solution

  1. eagle29 says:

    Cujo is playing excellent for the Wings right now and has taken the #1 spot away from injured Dominik Hasek.Manny Legace is fine but Joseph is playing excellent right now.

  2. JNurk17 says:

    great article.. i totally agree to give it to Esche. He deserves it this year

  3. Bermuda_Leaf says:

    Agreed, Cujo is not even available.

    Besides Philly will fold, Eshe will be blamed and Clarke will keep his job again.

  4. flyersfan10897 says:

    Cujo has bee playing great? His record is 12-9-3 and his save percentage is barely over .900. He was just pulled from last nights game, and most Detroit fans I have talked to would rather have Legace play every night.

  5. RangerSteve says:

    If Clarke doesn’t want to trade a Gagne or whatever for a goaltender, his best option of course is Esche. I’ve seen the guy play and he does have a future #1 goaltender written all over him, but after so many seasons if a goaltender holding Philly back can he do it? Esche could go either way..that being, a Chokemanek where he stands on his head during the regular season and vanishes in the playoffs. The other, he could possibly pull off a JS Giguere, get hot, and take his team to the finals.

    BTW..the reason why people aren’t talking about other teams’ goaltending problems is because with the exception of Colorado, Vancouver, and Detroit, the rest are not top favorites for the Cup. Philly’s problem has been goaltending since 1997 when they got crunked by the Wings in teh finals. That’s why everyone is so quick to point out why the Flyers need a goaltender, it’s just Clarkes dumb past.

  6. Flyers_01 says:

    The problem with Cechmanek isn’t so much choking in the playoffs as much as his style not working in the playoffs.

    Let me explain a bit. We all know that Cechmanek likes to come out and overplay the shooter. In the regular season that isn’t as much of a problem because the defense can usually get back there and prevent the cross ice pass or is able to clear the rebound.

    In the playoffs where everything is ramped up a notch the defense doesn’t get back there quite in time and as such the cross ice pass is there more and the rebounds sit out there a little longer.

    My feeling is that if they could teach Ceckmanek to stay in his net more he’d be a very good playoff goalie as almost all his problems happen when he wanders out of the net to far.

  7. dkball7 says:

    When has Theodore or Nabokov played well in the playoffs (3rd round is “playing well”)? The Coyotes have two goalies who have played well in the playoffs, and the Canucks have 1 as well (Hedberg). Wheres Giguere on this list ;)? Roloson should be there too… not Fernandez though. Potvin was a primetime goalie, but I don’t know if he is even the #1 anymore.

  8. flyersfan82 says:

    If a team believes in their goalie, it makes a huge difference. The Flyers are just a better team when Esche is in net.

  9. AfroCon says:

    Indeed. Cujo started well but has been less than stellar in the last few weeks.

  10. RangerSteve says:

    So basically your saying that, since it was the playoffs, Cechmanek should not be blamed..the defense should be since they couldn’t back check or clear out the front of the net. That’s pretty much been the debate the past few seasons w/ the Flyers and Cechmanek. Just as long as the Devils don’t win another cup, I could careless who wins!

  11. MantaRay says:

    I really like Esche, I think he is a fundementally sound goalie with a great defense in front of him.

    BUT, once Esche loses his first playoff game, everyone will start the comparisons to Boucher, Cechmanek, et. al. Playing in Philly is a pressure cooker for a goalie. I don’t know how far Esche can bring them at this point in his career.

    Sadly, I don’t think expensive/worn out options like Burke, or Kolzig are real options. Cujo is not a playoff goalie and Flyers fans would kill Clarke for getting him. Once Hasek comes back (at 100%) Cujo will be riding the pines–especially with Cujo’s play the last month and a half.

    The ONLY viable option is Khabibulin. But he won’t come cheap. With more playoff experience Eshce could be the guy, but not this year.

  12. UsedandAbused says:

    Everyone talks about the Flyers needing a goalie because that has been the ONLY real weak link the last few years. They have a GREAT defense (which is vital for winning a cup) and they are loaded up at the forward position. Esche could possible take the Flyers far in the playoffs if he can handle the preasure that the Philly media and fans put on the team during the playoffs. I just think he is to young to handle that preasure, especially when his team is favored to go far. Most teams do not get the kind of preasure on their teams as Philly. Lets face it though… If the Flyers are going to get past NJ they are going to need a goalie who can out perform Brodeur (well no-one can), but they are going to need a guy who can steal a game or two in a series with NJ or Ottawa.

    I wouldn’t mind Flyers getting Brain Boucher back (it won’t happen), but I still think he is going to be one of the top goalies in the years to come. I would take a chance on Nikolai Khabibulin to be honest, though the more I think about it I don’t know if I would give up Gagne for a goaltender. Perhaps you are right, and they should just give Esche the chance.

    If they do stick with Esche though I don’t see the Flyers beating Ottawa or NJ, though I think they can beat any other team in the Eastern Conference (not that Toronto would be a easy series). Hopefully Toronto will end up playing Ottawa, because Ottawa WILL NOT win that series. Though the way it looks from the standings if Flyers can hold on to the devision lead, NJ would either play Ottawa or Toronto. I think NJ would most likely win against either team. I think the second seed in the Eastern conference honestly is the easiest path through the playoffs. After the seventh seed the second seed would most likely play the third seed (Tampa Bay), meaning that if the Flyers had the second seed they would only really have to play of the the three toughest teams in the Eastern conference (Toronto, NJ, and Ottawa).

  13. MisterBobDobbalina says:

    Agreed with all these guys. he started off great with an 8-2 record and has fallen off big time. eagle29, you are a stupid fucking idiot, don’t you ever learn you dumb fuck?

    See you later, fucking idiot!

  14. UsedandAbused says:

    Philly will fold? I am sick of this Philly will choke in the playoffs shit. They didn’t choke with Hitchcock in his first year and I don’t think they will this year either. If they lose it will be because of goaltending. We can say the same thing about Toronto who has actually had good goaltenders the last 5 years.

  15. RangerSteve says:

    Holland just told CuJo that it’s his job to lose. You honestly think CuJo will let it slip away? I don’t, especially after all the crap he had to deal with this past off season.

  16. mikster says:

    Bottom line is…….

    If the Flyers and the fans want to be in the finals and the Cup…….

    ……Esche is not the answer. Get Burke, and use Esche for later years. This is the year for the Flyers to get there, or else it’ll be no different then other seasons.

    I like Esche, but i definitely do not think he is a 65 game regular season goalie and tops in the playoffs.

  17. Aetherial says:

    The Flyers face a serious dliema here.

    I do not believe that they have the goaltending to go all the way. However, I also believe that at this point an improvement would be too costly.

    They really need to also think long-term. They are in a very similar position to the Leafs as far as aging leaders on the team. If the lockout lasts a year or *shudder* two years… then the Flyers could be placed right back into rebuilding mode.

    They should not trade any more youth or picks. This is going to make it near impossible to get any of the bigger names out there.

    So, I actually think they should roll the dice. Like I said, I don’t believe they have good enough goaltending but I do think they have a chance anyway when everyone buys into Hitch’s system.

  18. flyersfan10897 says:

    Why Burke? He has never done anything impressive in the playoffs. He has never even made it past the first round in the last decade.

  19. mikster says:

    Clarke’s been the one showing most interest in Burke than anyone.

    I dunno, who’s a better bet in the playoffs, Esche or Burke?

  20. flyersfan10897 says:

    Well i would rather go with someone thats never been there than trade away prospects or picks for someone that isnt going to provide any additional boost.

  21. veggetto1725 says:

    I think that Esche is a good goalie and that they are ok with him but i would like to see the bum hackett shipped out!

  22. flyersfan10897 says:

    Theodore played well last year. even though the habs didnt win, he was better than expected. Nabokov has done an allright job in San Jose. Burke has never done well in the playoffs, and Brian Boucher is still a joke despite having 5 good games in his career. Minnesota is out of the playoff picture, so i didnt talk about them. Hedberg has only been to the playoffs once, so you cant say hes a proven goalie.

  23. mikster says:

    Yeah but you can’t prove that or make that a fact. How do you know if Burke won’t make a better difference? The guy is a true leader, great veteran. On the Sat. Hotstove evryone said that the NHL should give goalies the ability to be captains, and they brought that up when speaking of Burke.

    Trade no prospects or picks? Please, Clarke’s been gving them up and it didn’t matter all that much before and now it does? Come on……’ll NEVER win the Cup if you won’t go for it.

    Burke won’t be expensive. At least they would get a goalie, not Zhamnov who is completely useless on that team.

  24. mikster says:

    They’d kill him anyway once they see that Cujo would have been a better shot than Esche.

  25. chanman says:

    Honestly, Eshe is not cabable of leading the flyers to the cup. he is a great backup, but I dont see him as the man. Goalie of the future? you traded him to wash. Maxim Ouelet. but the best option i think is bringing in of coures Khabibulin and second to him burke. Kolzig is washed up, and turek will choke in the clutch. Trade a forward for bulin.

  26. big_booty says:

    Ouellet can’t even beat out Ratislav Stana. Stana has a better chance of being the Caps #1 of the future.

    Ouellet could still be good, but he’s developing at an awfully slow pace.

  27. big_booty says:

    Sean Burke is not the answer. He is old and is not even a #1 goalie anymore. Phoenix will try and get a king’s ransom for him when he’s not even worth a mid-level draft pick. Besides, the Flyers have been down that road before, to no avail. Why try it again?

    Forget Hasek. That’s a pipe dream. He’s going nowhere.

    Bob Clarke has never shown any kind of interest in Curtis Joseph (and rightfully so).

    Khabibulin is officially off the market, and is not worth a forward like Gagne.

    Esche is a Flyer because Bob Clarke and Reggie Lemelin saw something in him that they really liked. His acquisition was, and is, an upgrade from Brian Boucher.

    Say what you will about that, but the fact of the matter is that there has been no consistency to Boucher’s career. He’s been playing out of his mind recently, and that’s great. I’ve always liked the guy, but he just couldn’t put it all together. Just think about what will happen when Zak Bierk heats up again.

    Esche is the man. Whether or not he can lead the Flyers to the promised land remains to be seen.

    He at least deserves the chance to try.

    He’s not going to be perfect. No one is. But if a team like the Avs can go with a tandem of Aebischer/Sauve, then a team like the Flyers can go with Esche/Hackett.

    It’s just that simple.

  28. big_booty says:

    Khabibulin is off the market. He’s also not worth the heightened price tag.

    Esche is bound to lose a playoff game. What goalie hasn’t?

    He is level headed enough to know that something like that isn’t the end of the world. Philadelphia is a goalie crock-pot, I agree with you there, but if the brass ring is there at least give the kid a shot at grabbing it.

    How else are you going to know?

    How long should they put him off?

    They shouldn’t.

    Esche is a strong horse right now. Let them ride him. It might not be off into the sunset with a silver sipper strapped to his back, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  29. matteo says:

    Esche looks like he is the answer.

    I don’t see the Flyers getting Burke back AGAIN – especially for the price those crazy Yotes are asking.

    Khabby – I don’t think he is even available right now and even if he was I don’t think that the Bolts are going to be thrilled to deal with Philly again after the butt-raping that was the 2003 draft. However, I think, if available, the asking price for Khabby will be too much.

    I don’t see a deal for just Biron. If anything happens with the Sabres it will include Satan or Drury and I don’t see Buffalo giving them up at this point.

    I do not see a deal for Turek – he isn’t even the best goalie on his team, let alone an upgrade from Esche.

    Kolzig is the only one that I would consider an upgrade from Esche because of his NHL experience. He has been languishing on a terrible team and a change of scenenry and a strong defense could do wonders for him. However, the only way I would want a deal for him is if Gonchar was involved too. Otherwise forget it.

    I have to agree that the Flyers need to stick with Esche – good or bad. Give the kid his shot. Nobody expected Giguere to be the answer for the Ducks last season and look what happened. Esche plays on a very good defensive team and that should help him immensely.

    The sports show all around town here are calling for Clarke’s head unless he get’s a goalie. It’s ridiculous. The Flyers need a goalie, the Eagles need 2 wide-outs, and the Sixers need everything.

    Let’s go Phillies!!

  30. flyersfan10897 says:

    Did I ever say giving up prosects before didnt matter? No, of course not. I was very angry when they traded williams, and still am. ouellet shouldnt have been included for oates. and the only other recent trade was giving a first rounder for comrie, which i think is acceptable. you say it like the flyers trade away great picks or prospects once a week. woywitka was a bust, he didnt make the team behind 3 other flyers defenseman under 23, or therien. i dont want to see the flyers give up mike richards, jeff carter, stefan ruzicka or someone else for a goalie with no playoff success. The flyers had burke once, and he did nothing special, and has never done anything special in the playoffs. id rather keep the players we have then give away prospects for something we arent looking for.

  31. hoser24 says:

    Philly losing in the second round of the playoffs is choking for them. They expect, as does everyone else in hockey, to at least make the conference finals every year. The last time they did that was 99-00.

  32. LondonK says:

    The Flyers Goalie Solution…get one.

    Terrible news for Flyers fans. Robert Esche suffered a knee injury tonight in their 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This injury was another self inflicted wound as the injury was caused by Simon Gagne. This leaves the Flyers goaltending situation at Little and Niitimaki

  33. flyersfan10897 says:

    They shouldve traded Gagne instead of Williams. Hitch should also put Gagne with Primeau and Brashear and it can be called the “Line without offensive production.” If Esche is out for a while, Gagne should sit out. He has done nothing lately. He leads the team in shots but has only 10 goals in 50 some games. What happened to 20 goals, 27 goals, then 33 goals? and if esche is out, niittymaki should be in, not little.

  34. flyersfan10897 says:

    They shouldve traded Gagne instead of Williams. Hitch should also put Gagne with Primeau and Brashear and it can be called the “Line without offensive production.” If Esche is out for a while, Gagne should sit out. He has done nothing lately. He leads the team in shots but has only 10 goals in 50 some games. What happened to 20 goals, 27 goals, then 33 goals? and if esche is out, niittymaki should be in, not little.

  35. Hackstall says:

    Yep Esche is the answer. He’s not spectacular, but he is a solid positional goalie who rarely gives up bad goals (unlike Cechie). He also plays the puck as well as any goalie in the league (including Brodeur).

    Esche was hurt tonight but he’s day to day and this is a shortened week with the All-Star game so no need to panic. Hackett is also rumoured to be back sometime next week as well.

  36. LondonK says:

    While Gagne is still very young. Compared to his hype when he entered the league he is looking more like a bust than a success. Don’t get me wrong. He is still a good player, he is responsible defensively and all, but he was supposed to be this flashy superstar and much like Vinny in T-Bay he has just not lived up to expectations.

    Little was already up I believe as he finished the game for the Flyers. Regardless he will be up with Hackett still out with Vertigo. Niitimaki is not NHL ready IMO. He will be a better fit than career minor leaguer Little (although he does have some pretty good hang time) but he is not ready. That is why Little has been called up instead of Niitimaki. Clarke wanted him to get prime time in the AHL and this is not going to help.

  37. LondonK says:

    Day to day yes, but knees and goalies are not a good thing to mess with. The week off will help but it could prove worse regardless having an injury like that.

  38. flyersfan82 says:


    Little and Niitimaki.

    All I can say is that Hackett better get his act together fast. Even though he has been terrible lately, I would much rather have him in net that 2 career AHL goalies.

  39. Hackstall says:

    True…I just hope that Clarke doesn’t get panicky and pull the trigger on a goalie deal like he did for Markov. I am thinking that Clarke could have got Sydor for Williams if he hadn’t been in such a rush to replace Desjardins and Vandermeer.

  40. chillyv says:

    Great article and some great comments, but things changed a little last night. For those of you that weren’t watching the Flyers/Tampa Bay game last night Esche got hurt. Gagne collided with him and Esche sprained his knee. The injury did not appear to be serious, and Esche tried to keep playing before Neil Little was sent in to relieve him.

    So, to all of the people that are saying there won’t be a trade, I’m sorry but ChillyV has to disagree. Right now its looking like Hackett is done. Last I heard they can not find an appropriate treatment for his vertigo. So Robert Esche is the starter but who is his back-up? Neil Little, Antero Nittimaki? The Flyers can not risk an injury to Esche in the playoffs and then put everything in the hands of Neil Little or Nittimaki.

    When the flyers trade for a goalie. That goalie will come in as a CHALLENGER to Esche. The playoffs don’t start tomorrow and we still have plenty of time work out a trade, and then decide witch goalie will be the starter.

  41. Freeze says:

    Yup. Got to agree with you on this one. Esche has earned the chance to lead the Flyers in the playoffs. Besides, how many playoffs success stories could J.S. Giguere boast about prior to last year’s phenomenal playoff performance? You have to start somewhere.

    All we are saying…is give Esche a chance.

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