Lalime, Esche will be under scrutiny

Just about every team in the playoffs has some uncertainty in net, the most important position in hockey.

Updated: April 2, 2004, 2:01 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
When the Stanley Cup playoffs open next week, it will be a wide open tournament with no clear favorite. A major reason for that is because nearly every team has some uncertainty in net, the most important position in hockey.

Everyone wonders who this year's Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be. But there's no certainty that some unheralded goalie will duplicate the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim goaltender's Conn Smythe Trophy winning performance in his first appearance in the playoffs. Not since Patrick Roy led Montreal to the 1986 Cup as a rookie had a goalie with no playoff experience led his team so far.

Here's a look at the questions facing the goaltenders of the Eastern Conference teams with statistics through Wednesday night's games (on Friday, I'll examine the West's netminders):