InGoal Daily Update: Lundqvist & Schneider stick to stopping
… Plus Reimer’s run ends with Gustavsson in press box, more hip injuries for goalies in Minnesota, Lehner’s shaky debut, Malarchuk’s brave tale, and more in the Jan. 13 Daily Update.
It was a matchup of two of the hottest goalies in the NHL – offensively, that is.
New York Rangers star Henrik Lundvist went into Thursday night’s game against Vancouver as just the third NHL goalie to record an assist in three straight starts, and leading the league with four assists overall. Not far behind was his Canucks counterpart for the evening, rookie backup Cory Schneider, who had quietly picked up three assists while going unbeaten in his first 10 starts of the season (8-0-2).
Naturally it turned into a goaltender’s duel for the ages, with Lundqvist coming out on top of a 1-0 affair that was loaded with big saves at both ends. Lundqvist finished with 31 saves for his sixth shutout of the season, matching Tim Thomas atop the NHL in that category, but the more impressive stops came from Schneider, who finished with 34 saves to improve his save percentage on the season to .929 despite his first loss.
It was Vancouver’s first regulation loss since Dec. 5 and ended a 14-0-3 run for the Canucks. The highlights are worth a watch (below), and goalies should pay close attention to how well Schneider is moving within his crease on cross-ice passes, always sure to prioritize angle over depth, but never settling for just establishing his angle, instead recovering to his skates if needed before adding to his depth whenever possible. The best example is off Marian Gaborik, who was also stopped on a breakaway later, just 2:25 into the video:
For all the attention given how the Canucks goalies are playing deeper this season under new goaltending consultant Roland Melanson, it’s important to note they aren’t stuck there when it’s time to make the save. It’s not as extreme as the goal line-out style Lundqvist has perfected under Benoit Allaire in New York, but there are similarities, and Thursday night they combined for a great goaltending battle.
Reimer continues to make headlines in Toronto
James Reimer’s win streak ended at three games with a 5-1 loss in Phoenix Thursday, though coach Ron Wilson wasn’t about to blame the 22-year-old after the Coyotes scored three times on top-shelf shots in the first half of the third period to pull away (InGoal‘s take: he was a tad deep on all three, which allowed the Coyotes beat him on otherwise sound shoulder shrugs and elbows-up save attempts to the glove side).
With a win, Reimer would have become the first Maple Leafs rookie goalie to win four straight games on the road, an obscure stat indicative of how eager they are in Toronto to find new angles on the kid. (And for the record, he settled for a share of the “record” with Mike Palmateer (1976-77), Peter Ing (1990-91) and Damien Rhodes (1993-94), according to the Elias Sports Bureau). Not that there are a shortage of stories anyway.
The Winnipeg Sun took a nice look at how different life in the NHL is for a career minor leaguer who watched 11 other goalies get their shot ahead of him since the Leafs drafted him 99th overall in 2006. And The Toronto Star caught up with Swede Jonas Gustavsson in the press box after he was relegated to third-stringer status and forced to watch the game in a suit, while also checking in with goalie guru Francois Allaire and Giguere.
Tough way to lose a shutout for Bryzgalov
It hasn’t been an easy stretch for Phoenix starter Ilya Bryzgalov, who missed games to attend to an illness in the family and then more time when he got sick himself. So it was just par for the course when last season’s Vezina Trophy finalist lost what was shaping up as his third shutout of an up-and-down campaign after his defenseman was left lying on the ice by an uncalled high stick with 3:52 left, then vacated his position trying to pick up his own twig beside the net:
More hip injuries in Minnesota, both with Wild and college goalie
Hip injuries among butterfly goaltenders continues to be a theme in Minnesota, where the Wild were without both Niklas Backstrom, out since last week with what turned out to be a hip flexor problem, and now Jose Theodore. According to a blog on the Star Tribune, Theodore is questionable for Friday’s game against Colorado after missing practice Thursday, leaving Minnesota – and its AHL affiliate in Houston – in a bit of a crease crunch.
Russian Anton Khubodin was already up with the team and will start against the Avalanche, with true freshman Matt Hackett likely to be summoned to back him up if Theodore isn’t up to it. It seems likely, but then again the Wild played Theodore in back-to-back games last weekend despite suffering the hip injury in the first one. All of which leaves AHL Houston with Josh Tordjman and David Brown, who was called up from the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League Thursday as the Aeros prepared for three games in three nights.
Meanwhile, a couple levels down in the NCAA, hip surgery will end the college career of Minnesota Golden Gophers goalie Alex Kangas, an Atlanta Thrashers prospect who tried everything from cortisone shots to rest before giving in to the pain in his left hip and opting for surgery, according to the Star Tribune.
Kangas, 23, ends his Goldon Gophers run ranked first in save percentage (.912), and with the school’s single-season records for GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.930), both set as a freshman in 2007-08. He went 47-41-16 for Minnesota and ranks third in career games (108), saves (2,802) and minutes (6,359).
“You don’t want to go out like this,” Kangas said.
Vokoun not happy watching in Florida
Panthers No.1 Tomas Vokoun has reportedly been entertaining talk of a contract extension in Florida, but his coach did little to improve the negotiations by sitting him out against Nashville on Thursday in favour of backup Scott Clemmensen. Vokoun was shocked by the move after a 4-3 overtime win over Washington.
“I’m very surprised,” Vokoun told the Florida Sun Sentinel. “I got an explanation but didn’t agree with it. My job is to play. The coach is there to make the decisions. I’m here to obey them whether I like it or not. It’s not very usual for a goalie after you win a game. I personally didn’t think I played a bad game. It seemed like he had a different assessment.”
Coach Pete DeBoer said it had to do more with Clemmensen playing well – despite a 3-5-1 record he had a career-best .921 save percentage – while Vokoun had given up three goals or more in six of his last seven starts. Vokoun might have to get used to it as Clemmensen made 27 saves in a 3-2 win over the Predators.
One timers from around the Goalie World (Wide Web):
~ Nashville No.1 Pekka Rinne was among the most notable snubs pointed out in this space when the NHL decided to pick five Eastern Conference goalies for six spots in this year’s All Star Game. It appears Predators head coach Barry Trotz not only agrees, but is genuinely upset by the omission, according to a story on ESPN.com aboutthis season.
~ AOL Fanhouse senior writer Chris Botta has a great column that every goalie ever victimized by a hotdog forward will love, suggesting the NHL best ban spin-o-rama’s like the one Mason Raymond used to score on (video below) and agitate Islanders’ goalie Kevin Poulin (he later called it a “show off” move) on Tuesday night before the league’s puck stoppers decide to take things into their own hands and start dishing out some ankle-breaking lumber.
~ Atlanta goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk has led an interesting life to say the least (besides the obvious and well documented near-death experience with a skate blade in the crease, how many other horse dentists do you think are in the NHL?). But Malarchuk’s other near-death battles with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder are just as compelling, and the long-time NHL puck stopper stopped by Hockey Night in Canada radio with hosts Jeff Marek and Kelly Hrudey on Thursday to talk about it all. Malarchuk’s is an incredible story and this interview is definitely worth a listen.
~ Rick Dipietro was back on the ice taking shots from goaltending consultant Sudarshan Maharaj on Wednesday, but not on Thursday as the New York Islanders goaltending picture remains fuzzy, according to Newsday. Kevin Poulin got the start Thursday night after making 48 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Canucks on Tuesday, but was pulled after two goals, then put back in after Nathan Lawson gave up four himself. The game, which could have been billed as a battle of two organizations completely incapable of figuring out their goaltending, also featured the first NHL start for Senators’ prospect Robin Lehner, who was fresh off a stint at the World Junior championships. Lehner got the win, his first in the NHL, but as you’ll see in the sloppy game highlights below, this was far from a goaltending duel and Lehner showed he is still a teenager and in need of a lot more seasoning before being ready for full time big league employment: