First, let me say that I would not want to be an NHL goaltender for all the gold in Snoop Dog's teeth. Having said that, Patrick Lalime has been as far from the answer in goal for the Blues as one can get without being paralyzed.
After Saturday night's pathetic performance, in which 4 of the 5 goals scored by the New York Rangers in a 5-4 overtime loss were very stoppable, I noticed something I don't think I've ever seen before. It appeared to me, from my position next to the Blues penalty box, that nobody wanted to go out on the ice to congratulate Lalime. It's traditional in hockey that all of the skaters go thank, congratulate, or apolgize to, their goalie after the game in almost all situations. It sure looked to me like noone wanted to lead the way to do that Saturday night. And with good reason. I don't remember ever having seen a team reluctant to console, congratulate, or whatever, their goaltender in my 18 years working for the Blues. Blues coach Mike Kitchen went off on Lalime too, or at least didn't hold back from making it clear who was to blame, after the loss Saturday.
Lalime was touted as one of the better goalies in the NHL when the Blues acquired him after the '03-'04 season. He had led Ottawa to several strong regular season and playoff runs in the past. The only knock on him was that he gave up a couple of soft goals in a critical Senators playoff game a while back. It was thought that Ottawa would have kept him around had they not had the chance to sign world-class netminder Dominic Hasek when he came back out of retirement.
There is a train of local thought that says Lalime doesn't like the situation in St. Louis and doesn't really want to play here. If he's tanking his performance...or even not really caring about it...because he wants to be traded, that's about as low as a guy can sink in professional sports. If that's true, I hope he never plays another NHL game, anywhere. The poor Blues are obligated to a pile of money on his current contract though. So, if he's finished here, somebody will have to trade to get him for the Blues to be rid of his contract. Yikes, can things get any worse for Blues management right now? If they start playing some of the younger guys in the system in goal it will appear to the Blues already disaffected fan base that they are giving up on the season. If they don't do something, it will still look that way. It's a no-win.
The other question Blues fans have to ask at this point is..."Why do goalies suddenly forget how to stop a puck when they put on the Blues uniform?" There have been several others over the last number of years who have had decent reputations before playing here, only to then play like the sport was new to them. Lalime is just the last. Remember Chris Osgood, Brent Johnson, Roman Turek, Fred Brathwaite, Tom Barasso, Jamie McLennan? Is there some systemic problem that messes up these guys when they play here? Is the lack of a full-time goalie coach that important? Does Keith Allain (the organization's goaltending coach) have some kind of counter-productive effect on these people?
At this point you have to wish The Note had never traded Curtis Joseph.