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14 October 2007

Goaltending woes around the NHL two weeks into the 2007-2008 season...

Often, even if your team has ammassed the cream of the crop of superstars on their roster, it may not be enough to win in a new and tough NHL era.

It might be really early, and I know you cannot blame a goalie for how he performs on most nights, but let's take a look at how some goalies are faring around the league almost 2 weeks into the new campaign.

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The Atlanta Thrashers have learned this the hard way, only 5 games into the season their goaltending monster of Kari Lehtonen and Johan Hedberg have combined for a total of 23 goals against and subsequently a zero in the wins column and 5 losses despite Ilya Kovalchuk putting up his usual spectacular goal-scoring fiesta night-in and night-out.
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In Toronto, the Maple Leafs and their fans have had to endure the shaky start of new acquisition Vesa Toskala in the blue and white.
The prized pickup of Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. this offseason from down in Sunny San Jose currently leads all goaltenders with 18 goals allowed in only 4 games, complimented by a 4.48 GAA and a paltry .878 SPCT%.
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It's the same old story down in Tampa Bay, as the curse of Nikolai Khabibulin lives on.
With 3 wins so far this year, the Lightning have all the offence they need with Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards to compensate for their lack of a solid starter between the pipes.
The Lightning lost a game last night 6-4 to their counterpart Florida Panthers and you could argue that TB's goaltending is back to its old habits again.
After three strong consecutive performances by Johan Holmqvist in the team's first 3 wins; the Swedish sophomore let 4 goals on 15 shots go right through his body against the Panthers yesterday evening with all of them being considered in your blogger's eyes quite soft.
He was replaced by Marc Denis, originally sought for the starting role 2 summers ago (but that didn't work out either) and nothing out of the ordinary or remotely solid came of him in his 7 shot stint besides one weak goal that killed the momentum Tampa Bay had going after scoring four unanswered goals on Tomas Vokoun that period.
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Manny Fernandez was supposed to be the answer for the Boston Bruins in goal, but Tim Thomas is showing why he should be the number one for the B's.
Two ordinary outings and 10 goals against have people wondering if Fernandez can get back to his previous form from 2 seasons ago with the Wild, the same season which he stole the starter's job from Dwayne Roloson.
Until he decides to play like his salary dictates, the Bruins have all the time in the world to watch Tim Thomas shine for them.
A 1.48 goals against average and a .957 SPCT% puts Thomas in the top 3 in each of those categories to start the season; and I see no reason why Fernandez and his 5.00 GAA should park their butts in Boston's crease as long as the Bear is playing like a superstar.
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Jonathan Bernier had fans salivating after a stunning game against the defending Stanley Cup Champs on Opening Night in the United Kingdom, but the hype has calmed down ever since.
2 games and 11 goals later, the former first round draft choice Bernier is on the bench again and could end up in Manchester pretty soon.
Jason LaBarbera hasn't been any better the rookie Bernier with no wins and a .827 SPCT% to get his NHL career back on track.
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Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Mason, Miikka Kiprusoff, Martin Brodeur, Robert Luongo and Ryan Miller all need to be better if their teams have a chance at success this year.

Olaf Kolzig, Cam Ward, Nikolai Khabibulin, Manny Legace, Martin Biron and Cristobal Huet are carrying their teams with solid performances night-in and night-out.

Yours truly is a goaltender as well, and is only giving his two cents on this subject...things can change, it's only a few games, but here's how it's looking so far...

-BBeR

4 fanatics have replied:

Katy said...

I think netminders will make or break teams this year. I know I am not the only one who has noticed the high scores of almost every game thus far. Teams are going to need a solid goaltender who can keep his head in the game when he gets goals scored against him.
Biron, Huet, and Ward have stood out to me in every game they have played. Quite a few people mentioned last night that Ward may very well be the best netminder in the league this season and I think they are right. He trained hard all summer and his start of 5 solid games is really showing he is ready to take this season on.

JD FLYGUY said...

I've developed quite the affinity for Monsieur Biron...it's probably unhealthy...but I think I can live with it :) Between a stellar preseason and the solid start to the regular season, I'd say the Flyers can smile about their goaltending situation.
Let's go Marty!

JD FLYGUY said...

OH!!! There's one person that was forgotten in all this!
Can anyone say...Niklas Backstrom?
The guy only has a 1.00 GAA and a .959 Sv% through his first 4 starts.

Mike Thompson said...

No love for Peter Budaj? Aside from the one game in Nashville where he go no help, he's played solid in net for Colorado. Much better than $6 million dollar backup, Jose Threeorfour.

Ward has lookes strong, as has Kolzig. If Buffalo could play more consistantly in their own end, Miller's numbers would look much better. Manny's stellar seasons in Minny may have been more a result of the system in front of him than anything special about his abilities.

Josh Harding was impressive last night against the Ducks too. 11 NHL starts and 3 shutouts. Not bad.

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