Former Ottawa Senators goaltender Patrick Lalime officially announced his retirement on Wednesday afternoon. He leaves the NHL in the record books for a couple of accomplishments (most games unbeaten to start a career, and [tied for] most consecutive playoff shutouts), but after a regrettable final game for Ottawa and then some largely unimpressive years spent with the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, and Buffalo Sabres, he won't be remembered as one of the league's best.
He will be remembered, though, as one of the Ottawa Senators' best. But is he the best?
Now, I make a clear distinction here in asking if Lalime was the Senators' best-ever goaltender, because there's no denying that he wasn't the best goaltender to play for the Senators. Tom Barrasso and Dominik Hasek were both better goaltenders than Lalime, but both played so little for Ottawa that it's hard to say they contributed much to the Senators franchise overall.
Look at his contributions to the organization, though. Lalime is the Sens' all-time leader in so, so many categories: Games played (283), wins (146), shutouts (30), shots faced (6,920), and saves (6,283). He's also got the best goals-against average (2.32) and save percentage (.908) among goalies who've played at least 30 games. He's also tops in every category for playoff play among goalies who've played at least one full game.
And looking beyond the numbers at his performances, Lalime played some damn fine hockey in his time in Ottawa. Although his final game dominates our collective memory, Lalime played pretty well in that series overall; the Sens lost more because they couldn't score on Ed Belfour than because of Lalime.
He also powered the Sens to series victories over the Philadelphia Flyers in consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2003, including the three consecutive shutouts he had over the Flyers in 2002. He was instrumental in the 2003 playoff run, especially in forcing game seven against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.
So what say you: Was Patrick Lalime the best Ottawa Senators goaltender?
Was Patrick Lalime the Ottawa Senators best goaltender ever?
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