As mentioned briefly yesterday, netminder Patrick Lalime announced his retirement from hockey to join RDS as an analyst. Like with any other player who leaves the game, Lalime's decision spurred many a discussion about his tenure with the Ottawa Senatros.
From a superficial standpoint, Lalime was synonymous with three things: 1) his Marvin the Martian helmet design; 2) the two goals that Joe Nieuwendyk scored against him during the first period of Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals versus the Toronto Maple Leafs; and 3) during the national anthems, he made a habit of closing his eyes and swaying to the music like a hippie at a Phish concert.
If I had to describe Lalime, the first point that I would make was that he was never an elite goalie in the NHL. Perhaps to put it more accurately, he was the Eastern Conference’s equivalent to Chris Osgood. His personal numbers greatly benefitted from playing behind a strong Senators squad. Make no mistake, for a small market team like Ottawa, Lalime was a cost-efficient alternative for an organization that could never afford to compliment their strong ensemble up front in the pre-cap era.
Interestingly, as I sifted through the Hockey-Reference.com archives to compare Lalime's statistics against my own subjective memory, I noticed that Lalime had the third best career goals against average (1.765) and save percentage (.9264) in NHL playoff history.
Was my memory deceiving me? Was Lalime really this good?
I delved into Lalime's playoff numbers and this is what I found...
Swept in Quarter-Finals by the Leafs
Game 1: 1-0 Loss; stopped 26 of 27 shots; SV% .963; Ottawa outshot Leafs 36-27
Game 2: 3-0 Loss; stopped 20 of 23 shots; SV% .870; Ottawa outshot Leafs 37-23
Game 3: 3-2 OT Loss; stopped 23 of 26 shots; SV% .885; Ottawa outshot Leafs 28-26
Game 4: 3-1 Loss; stopped 20 of 23 shots; SV% .870; Leafs outshot Ottawa 23-22
Lalime's Record: 0-4
Save Percentage: .899
Stopped: 89 of 99 shots
* Ottawa outshot Toronto in three of the four games but only scored 3 goals.
** Ottawa was outscored 10-3 in the series.
*** Toronto averaged 24.75 shots per game
Won Quarter-Finals series versus the Flyers 4 games to 1
Game 1: 1-0 OT loss; stopped 23 of 24 shots; SV% .958; Ottawa outshot Flyers 35-24
Game 2: 3-0 win; stopped 33 of 33 shots; SO; SV% 1.000; Flyers outshot Ottawa 33-26
Game 3: 3-0 win; stopped 26 of 26 shots; SO; SV% 1.000; Ottawa outshot Flyers 29-26
Game 4: 3-0 win; stopped 28 of 28 shots; SO; SV% 1.000; Flyers outshot Ottawa 28-25
Game 5: 2-1 OT win; stopped 25 of 26 shots; SV% .962; Ottawa outshot Flyers 27-26
Lalime's Record: 4-1
Save Percentage: .985
Stopped 135 of 137 shots
* Ottawa outshot Philadelphia in three of the five games.
** Ottawa outscored Philadelphia 11-2 in the series.
*** Philadelphia averaged 27.4 shots per game
Lost Semi-Finals series versus the Leafs 4 games to 3
Game 1: 5-0 win; stopped 27 of 27 shots; SV% 1.000; Ottawa outshot Leafs 33-27
Game 2: 3-2 OT loss; stopped 39 of 42 shots; SV% .929; Ottawa outshot Leafs 56-42
Game 3: 3-2 win; stopped 26 of 28 shots; SV% .929; Ottawa outshot Leafs 29-28
Game 4: 2-1 loss; stopped 22 of 24 shots; SV% .917; Ottawa outshot Leafs 25-24
Game 5: 4-2 win; stopped 26 of 28 shots; SV% .929; Leafs outshot Ottawa 28-20
Game 6: 4-3 loss; stopped 15 of 19 shots; SV% .789; Ottawa outshot Leafs 23-19
Game 7: 3-0 loss; stopped 24 of 27 shots; SV% .889; Leafs outshot Ottawa 27-19
Lalime's Record: 3-4
Save Percentage: .918
Stopped 179 of 195 shots
* Ottawa outshot Toronto in five of the seven games.
** Ottawa outscored Toronto 18-16 in the series.
*** After the first game shutout Lalime stopped 152 of 168 shots for a Save Percentage of .905.
**** Toronto averaged 27.86 shots per game. Inflated somewhat by a lengthy game 2 OT.
Won Quarter-Finals series versus the Isles 4 games to 1
Game 1: 3-0 loss; stopped 31 of 34 shots; SV% .912; Isles outshot Ottawa 34-25
Game 2: 3-0 win; stopped 16 of 16 shots; SV% 1.000; SO; Ottawa outshot Isles 34-16
Game 3: 3-2 win; stopped 30 of 32 shots; SV% .938; Tied for shots at 32 per team
Game 4: 3-1 win; stopped 21 of 22 shots; SV% .955; Ottawa outshot Isles 28-22
Game 5: 4-1 win; stopped 31 of 32 shots; SV% .969; Isles outshot Ottawa 32-18
Lalime's Record: 4-1
Save Percentage: .9485
Stopped 129 of 136 shots
* Ottawa and Islanders outshot each other twice and split one game.
** Ottawa outscored New York 13-7 in the series.
*** New York averaged 27.2 shots per game
Won Semi-Finals series versus the Flyers 4 games to 2
Game 1: 4-2 win; stopped 23 of 25 shots; SV% .920; Flyers outshot Ottawa 25-17
Game 2: 2-0 loss; stopped 21 of 23 shots; SV% .913; Ottawa outshot Flyers 33-23
Game 3: 3-2 win; stopped 20 of 22 shots; SV% .909; Ottawa outshot Flyers 27-22
Game 4: 1-0 loss; stopped 25 of 26 shots; SV% .962; Ottawa outshot Flyers 28-26
Game 5: 5-2 win; stopped 17 of 19 shots; SV% .895; Ottawa outshot Flyers 30-19
Game 6: 5-1 win; stopped 18 of 19 shots; SV% .947; Ottawa outshot Flyers 30-19
Lalime's Record: 4-2
Save Percentage: .9253
Stopped 124 of 134 shots
* Ottawa outshot Philadelphia five games to one
** Ottawa outscored Philadelphia 17-10 in the series
*** Philadelphia averaged 22.3 shots per game
Lost Eastern Conference Finals versus the Devils 4 games to 3
Game 1: 3-2 OT win; stopped 32 of 34 shots; SV% .941; Devils outshot Ottawa 34-30
Game 2: 4-1 loss; stopped 17 of 21 shots; SV% .810; Ottawa outshot Devils 32-21
Game 3: 1-0 loss; stopped 23 of 24 shots; SV% .958; Shots tied at 24
Game 4: 5-2 loss; stopped 15 of 20 shots; SV% .750; Ottawa outshot Devils 28-20
Game 5: 3-1 win; stopped 21 of 22 shots; SV% .955; Devils outshot Ottawa 22-18
Game 6: 2-1 OT win; stopped 30 of 31 shots; SV% .968; Ottawa outshot Devils 34-31
Game 7: 3-2 loss; stopped 24 of 27 shots; SV% .889; Devils outshot Ottawa 27-26
Lalime's Record: 4-2
Save Percentage: .905
Stopped 162 of 179 shots
* Each team outshot the other three times. They tied in shots for one game.
** New Jersey outscored Ottawa 17-13 in the series
*** New Jersey averaged 25.57 shots per game
Lost Quarter Finals versus the Leafs 4 games to 3
Game 1: 4-2 win; stopped 15 of 17 shots; SV% .882; Ottawa outshot Leafs 30-17
Game 2: 2-0 loss; stopped 24 of 26 shots; SV% .923; Ottawa outshot Leafs 31-26
Game 3: 2-0 loss; stopped 15 of 17 shots; SV% .882; Ottawa outshot Leafs 37-17
Game 4: 4-1 win; stopped 23 of 24 shots; SV% .958; Ottawa outshot Leafs 36-24
Game 5: 2-0 loss; stopped 15 of 16 shots; SV% .875; Ottawa outshot Leafs 21-16
Game 6: 2-1 OT win; stopped 27 of 28 shots; SV% .964; Ottawa outshot Leafs 46-28
Game 7: 4-1 loss; stopped 8 of 11 shots; SV% .727; Ottawa outshot Leafs 37-26
Lalime's Record: 4-2
Save Percentage: .906
Stopped 126 of 139 shots
* Ottawa outshot Toronto in every game of the series.
** Ottawa outscored Toronto 14-11 in the series.
*** Toronto average 22 shots per game
Other Random Facts:
- Lalime's playoff record was 21-20
- During Lalime's playoff career: Ottawa outshot the opposition 28 times. They were also outshot 11 times and tied in shots twice.
- His record when Ottawa outshot the opposition was 13-15
- When Ottawa was being outshot, his record was 7-4
- When the teams had the same number of shots, he was 1-1
- Lalime's record against Philadelphia was a sparkling 8-3 and he had a save percentage of .956 (saved 259 of 271 shots).
- Excluding Philadelphia, against other playoff opponents, Lalime had a pedestrian record of 13-18 with a save percentage of .914 (684 of 748 shots).
- Against Toronto, Lalime had a 6-12 record and a save percentage of .907 (393 saved of 433 shots).
- In games when Ottawa could have clinched the series againt Toronto, Lalime's save percentage was .825%
- In career game sevens, Lalime's save percentage was .8615%
- In his playoff career with Ottawa, the Senators were shutout by the opposition 11 times.
- In games in which the Senators were shutout, Lalime's save percentage was .921 (246 of 267 shots)
The number of shutouts, both by the Senators and against the Senators is highly unusual. Lalime could be good, but he was not that great in key moments. That is the thing about goalies. Regardless of his career stats, which are quite good, a goalie's ability to raise his game at key moments will make or break him.
That's why the comparison with Chris Osgood is off. Osgood managed to hold the fort enough to win cups, Lalime could never even beat the Leafs despite a superior offensive squad.
@jeromebastien That was the weird thing about Lalime's play against the Leafs. Ottawa outshot them regularly but every time Lalime let in a goal against them, it's like the Senators lost their swagger.
I know the popular saying is that Ottawa's scorers let them down but that's not giving proper credit to Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour for their play. They helped steal games for the Leafs, it wasn't often (or at all) that you could say the same about Lalime's play against Toronto.
I got into these arguments all the time with fellow Sens fans "WE OUTSHOT THEM RAAH BELFOUR/CUJO ARE SO GOOD". If you look at the shot tiles off NHL.com or just the game stats that show the shots (for example 11Alfredsson, Wrist, 30') you'll see that a LOT of the shots were from areas where those two could see them. There just weren't a lot of shots or a lot of traffic in front of Belfour. I recall the Flyers just pummeling Drunk Eddie and him completely falling apart.CuJoke was another headcase waiting to happen, if only we'd been dirtier or meaner or more jackholes we might have won those series.
Who knows if it was Martin holding them back or if Ottawa's skill-first make-up didn't let them do the job, I think we can agree that it would be better if both the Leafs and Sens were in the playoffs together, if not against each other.
The comparison to Osgood is very apt. Osgood got great goal support, Lalime didn't. Lalime played way better in the playoffs than Osgood, but unless your team doesn't score, that doesn't amount to much.
People say Osgood "raised his game at the key moments", but those people are forgetting OT goals from centre ice, a give-away that led to one of the biggest upsets in NHL history, and a myriad of other terrible games that Osgood played.
Ottawa scored a goal per game less in the playoffs than in the regular season while Lalime was a starter. That is in no way his fault. Mediocre regular seasons aside, Lalime is far from the person to blame for Ottawa's playoff struggles.