Of all the goalies I coached in the NHL, Patrick Lalime was one I enjoyed coaching very much. I often use Patrick as an example when coaching other goalies; not because of his high skill level, great quickness or exceptional glove hand but for his attitude.
Patrick approached the game the way a goalie should. Never too high, never too low. He wasn’t the most skilled goalie. An average skater, he was a little awkward at times. But what a competitor and what a pleasure he was to coach. It didn’t matter if he was the first star in the previous game or if he gave up 7 goals the night before, he always came to work with a smile on his face and ready to conquer whatever the challenge was that day.
Always on time, sometimes early, he did all the goalie drills I had planned to the best of his ability and beyond. His teammates loved him and played hard for him.
He began his career in the NHL with a BANG. Playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he set a new record of 16 consecutive undefeated games as a rookie from the beginning of a career. Following that season, he was never able to play in the NHL again until the Ottawa Senators (where I was the goalie coach and pro scout) acquired him while he was playing in the minors for the Kansas City Blades.
He didn’t set any records with the Sens but he established himself as a solid NHL goalie. His performance in the 2002 playoffs was nothing short of phenomenal. In the series against the Philadelphia Flyers, he gave up 2 goals in 5+ games, posting 3 consecutive shutouts and an additional 4th which doesn’t officially count as a shutout because he lost 0-1 in overtime. SERIOUSLY!!! 2 GOALS IN 5 GAMES! And then, he had a shutout in the first game of the next series against the Leafs.
The best time of his career was certainly the 5 years he played for the Sens. He compiled great statistics and he was a leader on a team which came very close to reaching the top.
Some label him as a goalie who couldn’t win the big game but I totally disagree. Lalime won many big games for the Sens and never received the credit he deserved. His playoffs statistics are excellent, posting 21 wins, a .926 SV% and a 1.77 GAA.
There was the one game that everybody remembers. I’m sure that Patrick will agree that the 7th game of the series against Toronto in the 2004 playoffs was not his best. He paid the price for it by being traded the following summer. However, throughout his career, he was a standout goalie and a stand-up guy with the Senators and that one game should not define him.
“HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!”