By Cole Wight
Unlike the past few years, goaltending isn't a big issue for the Penguins at the moment. They have All-Star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who ranks 2nd in the NHL in wins (41), one game behind the Predators Pekka Rinne. Fleury's play this year has been nothing short of spectacular. The Penguins wouldn't have 102 points without his services. However the quandary between the pipes at the moment has nothing to do with Fleury, the problem is the backup goaltender.
Brent Johnson has been the Penguins backup goaltender for the last few seasons. Last year he appeared in 23 games, posting a 13-5-3 record with a 2.17 GAA and a 9.22 save %. This year has been a much different story though as Brent Johnson has appeared in 13 games for the Penguins posting a 3-7-2 record with a 3.17 GAA and a 8.82 save %. Brent Johnson sustained a injury . To take the place of Brent Johnson the Penguins recalled Brad Thiessen from the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins.
Last Year Brad Thiessen had a career year for WBS, winning the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender and teaming with partner John Curry to capture the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award as the goaltending duo to allow the fewest goals in the AHL.
Thiessen led the AHL and set franchise records last season with his 35 wins and seven shutouts. Thiessen posted a 35-8-1 record, 1.94 GAA and a .922 save % in 46 games. This year he has appeared in 5 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year posting 3-1-0 record with a 3.72 GAA with a 8.58 save %. Although those numbers are anything but amazing, Thiessen's past has shown he is a solid goaltender and is still young with lots of time to gain more NHL experience. However the question is, can you want to rely on him as a steady backup with so little NHL experience?
Brent Johnson is [finally] healthy and made his first start for the Penguins last evening, notching a 5-3 victory over the Sabres. Interestingly enough his last game was a 6-2 loss on February 19...to the Buffalo Sabres. While he's surely aggravated us this year with his rabid inconsistencies, he's made a career of being a go-to backup. But he is aging...
This leads us to the ultimate question, one in which our fearless GM Ray Shero will need to consider heavily: Johnson or Theissen (or someone else?)
Do you think with the way Brent Johnson has played this year he should remain the Penguins backup for another season, or should the Penguins invest in Thiessen as the Flower's backup? We all know that having a backup goalie isn't the biggest concern heading into the playoffs. But what if Fleury goes down for a game? We could find out answer in one of those games...
By Cole Wight