As I would have predicted, Alexander Salak is all but confirmed by the coach to be the starting goaltender for the Rochester Americans when they open the first round of the playoffs on Thursday night against the Abbotsford Heat. Benoit Groulx said that he will officially announce it on Wednesday but Tyler Plante had let the cat out of the bag on Tuesday when he said he was not starting.
“It’s disappointing but it’s playoff time and everyone has a role,” said Plante. “You have to fill those roles. Sally had a great year and coach decided to go with him so I’m going to support that and be there for my teammates.” (Source: YNN News)
Salak played in 49 games this season for the Amerks and ended the season tied for fourth with 29 wins amongst AHL goalies. Salak was also the starting goaltender for Planet USA at the 2010 AHL All-Star Game. The only people who’d be concerned about Salak are Amerks fans, a lot of other people I’ve talked to around the league have been impressed with Salak this season.
Alexander Salak also told YNN News, “At the start of this season, coach asked me how many games I want to play and I said if you feel good with me in the net then play me. That’s going to be the same for the playoffs as in the season so I think my game’s not going to change.”
Here’s what Benoit Groulx had said after the win on Friday night against the Toronto Marlies about Salak that to me pretty much confirmed at the time who the starting goalie was going to be:
With the start Sally (Alexander Salak) had everybody thought he’s a top end goalie and he’s like this and like that but to me he’s a rookie. He went through a tough stretch and he was alone. Plante was down for 2 1/2 months so that put a lot of pressure on Salak but the goalies that were with him (Chris Beckford-Tseu and Ryan Mior) at a certain point they were 0-7. Every time Sally was not in the net the team was losing, it put a lot of pressure on a rookie goalie. To me he found his way back and we gave him a certain rest lately wanting to make sure he’s ready for the playoffs. I think he’s had a very good season, we seem to forget that because of the start and the expectations people were putting on this team. I thought Sally was one of the top players for us this year, as a rookie he was by himself. That’s a lot of pressure on a rookie goalie.
Talk about singing some praises for the kid!
Groulx had also gone on to say, “I’m not going to announce our goalie before it starts but what I feel good about is that our two goalies are ready to go. Tyler’s been pretty good lately and tonight Sally was spectacular, it’s always good to see that.”
Tyler Plante has been great at the tail end of the season and was rewarded by being named AHL goalie of the month for the month of March. Plante was also named player of the week for the last week of March and start of April. Since March 1st Plante has been 7-4-1.
Florida Panthers goalie coach Rob Tallas has been in town all week and I imagine will continue to be throughout the playoffs helping out the goalies and that can only make both of them better. I’d rather have a debate about who the starting goalie should be at this point knowing both are capable than worrying about what would happen if either went down with an injury.
Jim Playfair has not yet announced the starting goalie for the Abbotsford Heat but the likely choice will be former Rochester Americans goalie David Shantz. Shantz has played in 27 of the last 33 games for the Heat recording 13 wins.