Five-Hole Friday: Goalie Talk and Rankings Update: Week 4
The goaltending kerfuffle is at a near climax as net-minders are going down with injuries at an alarming rate. The saga began this past week when Anaheim Ducks backup Viktor Fasth was declared out with a lower-body injury on Saturday October 19th, and has been out ever since. Unfortunately he was rushed back, and this Wednesday, October 23rd, Fasth left practice after he re-aggravated the injury, according to the Orange County Register. He could be out quite a while. This ostensibly raises Jonas Hiller’s stock.
Tim Thomas was the second goalie this week to be bitten by the injury bug. The 39-year-old net-minder from Flint, Michigan was forced to leave Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, as he injured his leg. This injury is not related to the groin injury he suffered earlier in the season. He went on injured reserve on Wednesday.
New York Rangers elite goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been anything but elite this season. That’s why for many around the game, it came as no surprise when, after the offensively-challenged Devils scored four goals on him in a 4-0 win, Lundqvist revealed an injury. Lundqvist has has not practiced since the game, and is providing very little detail as to what the injury is. Likely this is a case of an elite veteran goaltender not wanting to provide excuses for any poor play he has had this season. Lundqvist needs to be treated as day-to-day but also carries a cautionary note that this injury may be much more serious than anyone expects. Cam Talbot started in his place yesterday and allowed two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the goalie to own if you are a Lundqvist owner.
News continues to get worse for the elite goaltending group as Pekka Rinne can be added to the list of goaltenders nursing an injury. The 6’5 206 pound goliath of a goaltender is nursing a hip injury that is currently being diagnosed with a minimum 4-week recovery period. This news would not have been surprising had it come a week or so ago, as Rinne went three straight games in mid-October without recording at least a .900 save percentage. Rinne has given up just one goal in each of the past three contests though, which is why this injury news is so surprising. Nevertheless, the Finnish born Rinne is out at least four weeks and Carter Hutton is the goalie to own in Nashville at the moment.
And now for the injury that comes as no surprise to anyone, Cam Ward is hurt again. Shocking right? Ward left Thursday’s game against the Wild with the infamous “lower-body injury”. Goaltender Justin Peters replaced the injured Ward but the long-term solution during the “three-to-four weeks” that the 29-year-old Saskatchewan native will be out, is Anton Khudobin. Khudobin, a sleeper for us in the pre-season for this exact reason (Ward’s penchant for getting hurt), is nursing an injury of his own at the moment, but it is being tabbed as minor. The 27-year-old former seventh round pick is expected to return early this coming week.
Antti Niemi- San Jose Sharks: Niemi’s performance can absolutely no longer be ignored. The Sharks have been absolutely fabulous and the 30-year-old Finnish goaltender has been an enormous part of it. He was stellar in back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings (who he shut out) and then the Boston Bruins, who needed a David Krejci goal with 0.8 seconds left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie. Niemi catapults to number two in our rankings following the injuries to Rinne and Lundqvist (both of whom had been much worse than Niemi to this point anyway).
Marc-Andre Fleury- Pittsburgh Penguins: Its official, the 28-year-old native of Sorel, Quebec seems to have finally put his mental issues behind him. Fleury has been absolutely sensational for the Penguins this season to this point. While his .930 save percentage to date through eight games, is not indicative of what his end-of-year number will be (.918,.913,.916 the previous three years), there’s no denying that Fleury is on top of his game at the moment. His 1.74 GAA sparkles in the glistening morning sunlight, for the Eastern Conference’s best team.
Ryan Miller- Buffalo Sabres: Your heart has to ache for a guy like Miller who has done nothing but be an excellent goaltender throughout his career to date; the Sabres just stink. Buffalo has been an absolute atrocity, sitting neck and neck alongside the New York Rangers for the worst goal differential in hockey. The Sabres sit at minus-18 and the Rangers, minus-19. The defense is atrocious and Buffalo can’t score. Those factors have combined themselves, yielding four and five goal outputs by the Buffalo opposition in each of their past two games.
Evgeni Nabokov- New York Islanders: We all wondered when the 38-year-old backstop would begin to show his age and he answered us that it would be this past week. Nabokov’s week couldn’t have been worse, as he allowed four goals to the Carolina Hurricanes and five goals to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and Tuesday respectively. Tread carefully with him, as he has a penchant to run hot and cold; if this is the beginning of a patented cold spell, he needs to be riding your bench until he rights the ship.
|1. Tuukka Rask||16. Ben Bishop|
|2. Antti Niemi||17. Kari Lehtonen|
|3. Craig Anderson||18. Jonathan Bernier|
|4. Carey Price||19. Sergei Bobrovsky|
|5. Jonathan Quick||20. Cory Schneider|
|6. Jimmy Howard||21. Niklas Backstrom|
|7. Henrik Lundqvist||22. Josh Harding|
|8. Jaroslav Halak||23. Ryan Miller|
|9. Jonas Hiller||24. Braden Holtby|
|10. Pekka Rinne||25. Carter Hutton|
|11. Marc-Andre Fleury||26. Evgeni Nabokov|
|12. Roberto Luongo||27. Steve Mason|
|13. Semyon Varlamov||28. Anton Khudobin|
|14. Corey Crawford||29, Jonas Gustavsson|
|15. Mike Smith||30. J.S. Giguere|