We looked at the defensemen, so let’s follow that up with a look at the goalies of the Northeast division. The goaltender situation in the Northeast is interesting, with surprising changes (Halak out) and a whole mess of veterans running out of time to regain form. All stats are from last season.
10. Pascal Leclaire, Ottawa Senators (3.07 GAA .877 SP)
Leclaire was brought in by Ottawa to compete for a starting job with Brian Elliott, but inconsistent play and some hard luck injuries have relegated him to the bench. Even the bench wasn’t safe for poor Pascal, as a stray puck nailed him in the jaw while he was chatting idly. At least he had a sense of humor about having surgery for it:
“I don’t know I might try to get calf implants or abs or something. We’ll see what the prices are.”
9. Alex Auld, Montreal Canadiens (2.96 GAA .895 SP)
Auld was brought in to back up Carey Price after Client Jaroslav Halak moved on to the Blues. Auld is a journeyman who is not a threat to take Price’s job, which is good for him, I guess. He’s played well for short stretchs but has never been able to turn in a season that could win him a job. If he sees significant time this year, Montreal is in trouble.
8. Patrick Lalime, Buffalo Sabres (2.81 GAA .907 SP)
Ryan Miller was pushing for Lalime to be back as his backup, and he got his wish. He’s a great guy, and Miller likes him, which is good enough for me. He hasn’t always gotten goal-scoring and defensive support the way Miller has, but Lalime plays better with more playing time. I would expect a few appearances by Jhonas Enroth, and if Miller were to go down, I bet they’d split time.
7. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Toronto Maple Leafs (2.85 GAA .907 SP)
Giguere is basically in a dead heat with his partner, both are solid goalies on a team that was bad last year. Improved play around them could see one of the two jump up the list, though I give the edge to Gustavsson because of his youth.
6. Jonas Gustavsson, Toronto Maple Leafs (2.87 GAA .902 SP)
See the above, I guess. Jiggy has the name recognition, but Gustavsson should get a solid shot at being the goalie of the future.
5. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (2.77 GAA .912 SP)
The former Jesus Price lost playing time to Jaroslav Halak last year, before getting handed the starting gig by default for this one. He only won 1/3 of his games last year, on a team that went on a decent playoff run. Pretty shaky situation for a team under a ton of scrutiny.
4. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins (2.56 GAA .915 SP)
His unorthodox style and the wild saves that come with it make for some fun video, Tim Thomas gained popularity quickly once he finally earned a starting job in Boston. It comes as quickly as it goes, though, with Tuukka Rask taking over from the former Vezina winner and starting every playoff game. Still, he can make plays and can rebound if Rask falters under the heavier load of a full season.
3. Brian Elliott, Ottawa Senators (2.57 GAA .909 SP)
This guy absolutely KILLS the Sabres, going 4-0 with a 1.81 GAA against our hometown club last year. He also went 4-0 against the Sabres the year before that. He never seems to be playing that well, just always well enough to win versus Buffalo. It’s good enough to put him below the top two.
2. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (1.97 GAA .931 SP)
As I mentioned above, Rask took the reins and the Bruins rode his success into the playoffs and past the Buffalo Sabres. I’d want to see him in for 60+ games but he was great for a team that dropped off offensively from the previous season (Boston was the only team to score fewer than 200 goals).
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (2.22 GAA, .929 SP)
Did you have any doubt that I would put the reigning Vezina champ (and Olympic Silver Medalist) at the top of this list? Sabres fans will again sound like a broken record in asking for Miller to not play quite so many games, but he dealt with an intense workload last year and threw down his best numbers. Though he can flash the leather when needed, Miller is at his best when the saves look routine, relying on excellent positioning, rebound control and anticipation to be in the right place at the right time.
There you have it. Agree? Disagree? I’m a nutjub? Fire away!