Before tonight, back-up goaltender Justin Peters hadn’t played in an NHL game since November 29th. In 7 appearances which totaled just 401 minutes of ice time, Peters faced 172 shots and had an .872 save percentage.
Against Dallas on Saturday, Peter allowed five goals, including two back-breaking third period tallies within 16 seconds. Peters was not great. Karl Alzner summed it up pretty well post-game: “He did pretty good for not getting a start in a while.”
Long-time Caps back-up goaltender Brent Johnson had a distinct perspective on Peters’ performance during CSN’s post-game show. Remember, this is the same man who would sit for long stretches of time as Olie Kolzig handled the boatload of starts in Washington.
Let’s face it, this wasn’t a defensive battle. This is a tough position for a guy that’s been sitting on the bench for as long as Justin Peters had. This is a very tough position to come into. A lot of scoring opportunities, breakaways, odd-man rushes, so I feel for the guy. I know how it feels. I wish he could have gotten two points, but I think he played well and he gave his guys a chance to win.
Johnson also gave analysis on all of Dallas’s goals. He saw a lot of fault in the Caps defense.
“This is a highlight goal. What a pass by Spezza behind the back. We got four guys not even in the play and this is the last guy you want to leave alone right in front of a goalie who hasn’t been in there in 21 games.”
RMNB’s Take: Not to mention leaving one of the league’s best shooters unattended on the weak side while Brooks Orpik wanders out into neutral.
“It was kind of debatable. I’m sure they went to Toronto on this, but he does get this right underneath. You could see Peters going up like it’s gonna be over, but it takes another bad bounce. Like I said, when they just don’t fall your way you can kinda tell.”
RMNB’s Take: These are never the kind of goals where you say, “he’s gonna want that one back.” John Carlson was a bit too permissive with Erik Cole in the slot, and Peters had little say in the matter.
“Bad turnover at their blueline and this happened all night. Once again, look at all these guys coming at you: three-on-one. One guy coming from the bench. Tough place to be in and Spezza just puts it in a place where Peters cannot get it.”
RMNB’s Take: Plus there’s the fourth-line forwards, who were perhaps so excited by that rare moment in the offensive zone that they were unable to cover the odd-man rush going the other direction.
“I mean two deflections. As a goalie, I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, what is going on right now?'”
RMNB’s Take: Like Craig Laughlin said during the telecast: this was a freak series of bounces leading to a layup — just like James Neal’s backbreaker on Friday.
“What I admire about by Jamie Benn there is shooting. That’s not even on his right side for a one timer. He’s shooting right into that. That was unbelievable.”
RMNB’s Take: Yet another odd-man rush for Peters to fend off, this time with the Fehr line caught behind the play and no one covering Benn, making a goal more of a coin-toss proposition than the one-in-ten chance it would have otherwise been.
No one knows the job of back-up goalie better than Johnson. His career was filled with nights like this one: thrown in cold to backstop for a tired team. He and Peters should grab a beer and talk this one over.
Additional reporting by Chris Gordon.
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