Three Goalie stars for October 25, 2010
Would the revival of Tim Thomas in Boston prove more impressive than the debut of Cory Schneider on the other coast, and allow the veteran Bruins’ backstop to edge out the Canucks rookie backup for top spot in fan voting for InGoal Magazine’s 3 stars this week? And what about the return to playoff form of Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis, or a return from injury of Pekka Rinne and the still undefeated Nashville Predators? Once again, you decided who took home top prize …
First Star: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins: Thomas, who was named second star after an impressive shutout overseas during the first week of the season, continued his early season run of brilliance by backstopping the Boston Bruins to a sweep of a home-and-away series with the offensively gifted Washington Capitals. He stopped 73 of 75 shots in the victories, improving to 4-0-0 this season with 0.75 goals-against average and eye-popping .978 save percentage.
In the process, the 36-year-old has quieted a lot of critics who wondered if his Vezina Trophy win two seasons ago was a one-off after he lost the starting job to impressive rookie Tuukka Rask last season. Turns out it was more about a badly torn hip labrum, which Thomas had surgically repaired during the summer, freeing him up physically for this impressive return.
Second Star: Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks: On the other side of the continent something shocking was happening, as Schneider got consecutive home starts after Roberto Luongo started back-to-back road games in Minnesota and Chicago. It was the first time since Luongo arrived in Vancouver in 2006 that he’d watched two straight at home from the bench. In fact, it matches the total number of times it has happened in all four seasons combined, and Schneider made sure there will be more in the future, turning away 32 shots in a 5-1 win over Carolina, and 23 more in a 5-1 win over Minnesota, losing his bid for a first career shutout with 2:35 left, but picking up his first NHL assist shortly before. Add in the seven saves Schneider made in Minnesota after Luongo was pulled, and he finished the week with a .968 save percentage and 0.86 goals-against average. not bad for a rookie making significant adjustments to his style under new goalie coach Roland Melanson this season, changes that Schneider believes will help him in sporadic starts. Add in the debut of a great new tribute mask and it’s been quite a first week of work for the long-time Canucks prospect.
Third Star: Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues: The week started with a tough overtime loss to the streaking Chicago Blackhawks, but ended with the familiar site of Halak stoning and frustrating the Pittsburgh Penguins. In a repeat of his incredible playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens last spring, Halak made 31 saves to backstop his new Blues team to a tight, 1-0 victory over the Penguins. The week also included a 23-save revenge win over the Blackhawks as Halak improved to 4-1-1 with an impressive .929 save percentage so far in St. Louis.
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