NASHVILLE – Suddenly, decisions on brands have not become so easy for Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice.
Try how he could keep Connor Hellebuyck, the goalkeeper of the second, happy and timely, Maurice has few options, but Laurent Brossoit has offered more time in the net.
Brossoit won it with excellent performance after excellent performance this season.
He did not start a ton of games, but when he played, he was one of the best players in the entire NHL.
The numbers are beyond impressive.
Among those who have played at least 10 games, Brossoit leads the league with 2.01 goals against the average and a rescue rate of 0.943.
It is not surprising that he is 10-0-1 in the games he started, suffering the only loss in a relief effort when Hellebuyck was forced in the first period.
Meanwhile, Hellebuyck is 42ndwhen in the NHL with a GAA 2.87 and 37th in Rescue Rate at .908. Despite the numbers, the jets remain a first-class team.
Hellebuyck, the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy last season, is still 20-13-1 this year, but most of the nights was not a play breaker.
Imagine that you are Paul Maurice and that you are facing this dilemma.
You have a young golfer starting with a new six-year contract that does not play best. Your plan was to lead Hellebuyck for 60 good matches throughout the season and then put the team on his back in the playoffs.
But you also have this backup goalkeeper – the smallest player paid ($ 650,000) for the team that was taken on a one-year off-season contract at Edmonton Oilers, who plays as an all-out every time take on the net.
Be honest with you – which goalkeeper gives you the best chance to win games right now?
The answer is clearly Brossoit, even if he does not have the resumption that Hellebuyck has, even if he can not have a future with the team – he will be a freely restricted off-season agent – and even if he had never been a part of plan.
I do not think anyone expects Maurice to simply surrender to Brossoit for 25 years right now, especially given the small size of his sample of work.
But the veteran coach needs to find a different balance between keeping Hellebuyck happy and starter routine and taking Brossoit's hot hand to win victories.
"The program will sometimes dictate if the boys are sharp or not when you have to use two," Maurice said on Wednesday. "And then the show, we have a luxury here, I'm not sure I've ever had, we have two players who feel confident in the game." Laurent was remarkable.
How valuable was Brossoit this year?
Consider Steve Mason's numbers a year ago.
He went 5-6-1 with 3.24 GAA and a .906 save the percentage of the last season in 12 starts. He had a hand in 11 points for Jets all year round.
Brossoit was part of 21 points for Jets in 12 appearances already this season.
Even if it was not to be expected, he pushes Hellebuyck, and the initial goalkeeper has to answer.
If he does not, and soon Maurice will have to offer Brossoit more and more opportunities as long as he continues to shine.
It would certainly be rare for a goalkeeper in Brossoit's situation to steal regularly from a no. 1 set but not unprecedented.
Think in 2010 when Carey Price was in the third season as the starter Montreal Canadiens and the clear goalkeeper of the future.
Fighting – with a better number than Hellebuyck now, 2.77 GAA and .912 save the percentage – and Jaroslav Halak started stealing begins.
The price began 33 games in the first half of the season, but only eight after February 1st. Halak took most of the game down and coach Claude Julien led the hot hand in the playoffs, where Halak was brilliant, leading the Habs at the end of the conference.
Halak was not much of a future plan for Canadiens, but he did the job at the moment and that was all that matters.
Which brings us back to Winnipeg today, where Hellebuyck was not that bad, but he was not nearly as good as Brossoit.
Maurice has made Brossoit to make about 22 starts this season and the goalkeeper is in for that now.
With 36 remaining games, Maurice would have had to get out of the way for a while and then walk on his hot hand in the best moments.
It is not a bad problem to have as long as it is managed correctly.
If Maurice is firmly lacking in the original plan and Hellebuyck does not lift the game, the second guess will hit new levels.
Hellebuyck was surprised to have stayed on Vegas, but he did not complain
Connor Hellebuyck did not see her coming.
With jets confronted by another high-end team at the Western conference Tuesday night, Hellebuyck found he had warmed a seat on the bench, while reserve team Laurent Brossoit managed to win with 43 victories in a win with Winnipeg 4-1 on the Vegas Golden Knights.
He said something like Jets coach Paul Maurice left with the backup goalkeeper in a match against the same team who beat Jets in the playoffs in the last season of the Western Conference.
"It was a little (surprise)," Hellebuyck said Wednesday before Jets left for Nashville. "It was definitely one I would have liked, because the West Conference did not end well last year and it's an easy game to enter.
– But I will not question the coach. He makes the calls and I will be ready when my name is called.
The call should come on Thursday night when Jets plays Predators in Nashville.
Hellebuyck expects to do all that all the season hockey games did.
"We have many victories and we are first, right?" He said. "I do not mean it is perfect, because it will not be perfect until the games will come and I want to make sure it stays that way. I want to get to the top at the right time. "