Goaltending can be one of the most frustrating positions to manage in
The season is only 4 days old and we already have conflicts and "feel good" stories brewing in the nets. Let’s look into some of these situations after the jump...
This is the big one that I didn’t think we’d be talking about this early in the season. Everyone knows that pre-season isn’t a good indication of things to come for the regular season, right? Well apparently, Bruce Boudreau thinks differently. Michal Neuvirth badly outplayed Tomas Vokoun during the pre-season, but who expected to see Vokoun in a baseball cap at the end of the bench for the season opener? I, for one, did not. Not when they signed Vokoun to a contract and traded away Semyon Varlamov. Neuvirth played decently, getting the win at home vs the Hurricanes in OT while stopping 28 of 31 shots. Vokoun is scheduled to get the start tonight. Despite the Caps going to Vokoun tonight, this is feeling like it’s going to be a hot goalie situation. Teams who drafted Vokoun in the second round hoping for 40 wins should be worried by this. The opposite side of this is Neuvirth instantly becomes an attractive commodity. Smart owners probably drafted Neuvirth as a backup for Vokoun just based on the huge pre-season discrepancy. If you didn’t, then shame on you. Run to the wire and hope he’s still there. You still have to consider Vokoun the official starter here, but Neuvirth is probably the most attractive backup to own at this point (sorry Tuukka).
Just one game played but they went to Al Montoya with Rick DiPietro backing up. Evgeni Nabokov got the scratch. Montoya played well in the loss stopping 27 on 29 of the Panthers shots. We will see who the Islanders turn to for their game against the Wild tonight. I am betting that DP will be in there and it probably won’t be too long until Nabakov gets a start. This is going to be a merry-go-round all season long and it will be best to avoid it if at all possible. We will probably need at least 10 games played to see how the Isles are going to let the goalie situation play out. It’s comical how last year they couldn’t find anyone to man the nets but fast forward to this year and they’ve got too many.
Two games played and two losses already for Steve Mason. He was even pulled in favor of Curtis Sanford (he’s still around?) in their 4-2 loss to the Wild. He had a great pre-season, which misled a few foolish owners to actually draft him with a glimmer of hope. I really think that long gone is the season where he posted a 2.29 GAA with 33 wins and 10 shutouts. The guy’s GAA has been over 3 with a .901 save percentage for 2 straight years. I think the 2008-2009 season is the anomaly here. If you’re a Mason owner and you have an open IR spot, go out and get Mark Dekanich. He’s out until November in all probability, but he has a real good shot of unseating Mason as the starter at some point this season.
Devan Dubnyk got the opening day start for the Oilers. He responded by holding the Penguins to a goal on 34 shots in a shootout win. It should be mentioned that
"Feel Good" Stories
Who predicted an opening night shutout from Jose Theodore, please stand up. He blanked the potent Islander offense and started his Panther career in style. That should buy him at least another 5-10 games as the starter in net. He didn't get the nickname "Three-or-more" for nothing.
The Flyers must have been stupid to trade away their cornerstone players, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter just to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a mega deal. I know I’m not the only one who thought that. Well it’s only been 2 games in, but they’ve both been pretty for Bryz. He held the Stanley Cup Champs to just 1 goal in a win at
So Tim Thomas lost on opening night. So what? They went right back to him for game 2 and he stood on his head against a lethal Tampa Bay Lightning team for the win. The fact that he started both of the first two games has to put Thomas backers at ease, at least for a little while. Tuukka Rask goes tonight but he would probably have to post a shutout to see the net over Thomas next game.