Back on January 14th, 2010, DarrenM posted an article entitled "Are Elliott and Leclaire the worst Senators goalie tandem ever?" ( http://www.silversevensens.com/2010/1/14/1249349/are-elliott-and-leclaire-the-worst) . The article goes on to debate that question, but it also asks if the Senators have EVER had the quality goaltending needed to win the Stanley Cup. I'm a firm believer that any team, regardless of talent and skill up front and on the blueline, has a better chance to win it all with a steady goaltending situation. The statistics researched below paint a very telling picture in proving my point.
I decided to compare each team's goaltending situation over the past 20 years, excluding the 2009-2010 season, to see which teams have truly had "steady goaltending" over that time period. The statistics I used were Games Started, Wins, Goals Against Average and Save Percentage. In order for a team to be considered as having "steady goaltending", their starting goalie for a given year had to have finished the season 15th or better out of 30 in at least two of the four statistical categories. Each team needs to have had the same starting goalie for at least 3 years in a row. Only the stats of starting goalies were used to determine the rankings. In cases where two or more goalies started the same amount of games for a team, Minutes Played was used as a tie-breaker.
Teams are ranked in order of decreasing years of "steady goaltending". Teams that did not exist for the entire 20-year period may show a decimal point number of years, as their "ranking" was averaged out over the 20-year period.
11 Jets / Coyotes
10 North Stars / Stars
10 Whalers / Hurricanes
8.87 (Mighty) Ducks
8 Nordiques / Avalanche
8 Red Wings
Does steady goaltending breed Stanley Cups? The top team on the list has 3 Stanley Cups over the past 20 years. The bottom 7 teams COMBINED have ZERO. It's hardly a surprise to see where the Senators rank on this list. The closest they've ever come to having steady goaltending is the period from 2003 to 2007, although the steadiness was split amongst Patrick Lalime, Dominik Hasek and Ray Emery. If the Senators manage to find unsteadiness in the goaltending department yet again in the 2010-2011 season, they will have had a different starting goalie 7 years in a row (Lalime, Hasek, Emery, Gerber, Auld, Elliott). That would tie them with the 1996-2002 Tampa Bay Lightning (Puppa, Tabaracci, Fitzpatrick, Schwab, Cloutier, Weekes, Khabibulin) for the unsteadiest goaltending situation during the 20-year period, unless the Edmonton Oilers manage to keep pace (Salo, Markkanen, Roloson, Garon, Roloson, Drouin-Deslauriers).
In conclusion, I don't think that there's any question whether or not steady goaltending is key to a team's success come playoff time. The only Cups won without it over the past 20 years were by Mike Richter in 1994, Dominik Hasek in 2002, Cam Ward in 2006 and Chris Osgood in 2008. The Detroit Red Wings appear to be an anomaly and could have probably won a Cup with the proverbial grandma in net.
P.S. If you take this year's statistics into account, look for one of Boston, Buffalo, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose or Vancouver to win the Cup.