Goaltending In A Strike Shortened Season
With a 48 to 50 game schedule on deck, teams have to hit the ground running. There's no time to waste, as before you know it, the playoffs will arrive. While it's always a big factor when analyzing the strength of a club, having solid goaltending is more important than ever in a strike shortened season.
So with that in mind, let's take a look at three team's which could have a distinct advantage early, and three which could be in serious trouble:
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury backstopped a team which played most of its season without its best player, racking up 42 wins. He'd finish with 67 GP, going 42-17-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .913 save %.
Detroit Redwings: Jimmy Howard. The Wings are down a few pieces, but Howard posted a career best 2.13 GAA last year, playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league. He'd finished with 57 GP, going 35-17-4 with a 2.13 GAA and a .920 save %.
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist won the Vezina last year, and has what many consider to be the best team in hockey playing in front of him. He'd finish with 62 GP, going 39-18-5 with a 1.97 GAA and .930 save %.
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford. Once dubbed the "goaltender of the future" by the club, there is a lot of second guessing going on right now in Chicago. Crawford was shaky at best last season, and had a brutal postseason performance. He'd finish with 57 GP, going 30-17-7 with a 2.72 GAA and 9.02 save %.
Philadelphia Flyers: Ilya Brzgalov. Signed a huge contract last year, and did not impress his rabid fan-base. He'll be on a short leash if he doesn't perform out of the gates, and a mid-season change in the strike shortened season can not be considered a desirable move. He'd finish with 59 GP, going 33-16-7 with a 2.48 GAA and a .909 save %.
Toronto Maple Leafs: James Reimer. It's easy to pick on perennial cellar dwellers, so I will. Reimer showed promise early in his career, but suffered a head injury last year, and was never the same after. He'd finish with 35 GP, going 14-14-4 with a 3.10 GAA and .900 save %. (this of course could change if Toronto does in fact acquire Roberto Luongo).
And two more teams to keep your eyes on:
Vancouver Canucks: Cory Schneider. Schneider has been brilliant in his backup role to All-Star Roberto Luongo, but is now the No. 1. It's one thing to dominate off the bench, and it's entirely another to do so as the "main guy" in a market like Vancouver. He'd finish with 33 GP, going 20-8-1 with a 1.96 GAA and .937 save %.
LA Kings: Jonathan Quick. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the defending Stanley Cup Champion, and Conn Smythe Trophy Winner in this article. Quick would prove to be the difference in the playoffs, posting a 1.41 GAA and .946 save %. After signing a 10-year, $58 million contract extension, LA will look to duplicate its success from a year ago.
And in case you were wondering, here are the current odds for each team to win the Stanley Cup in the 2012/13 season:
Western Conference Eastern Conference
Chicago +1050 New Jersey +2000
Columbus +10000 New York Isles +6000
Detroit +1300 New York Rangers +800
Nashville +2000 Philadelphia +1150
St. Louis +1250 Pittsburgh +600
Calgary +4500 Boston +1200
Colorado +4000 Buffalo +2500
Edmonton +3500 Montreal +5500
Minnesota +1400 Ottawa +3500
Vancouver +800 Toronto +4500
Anaheim +3000 Carolina +2500
Dallas +4000 Florida +3500
Los Angeles +1000 Tampa Bay +2200
Phoenix +3000 Washington +2150
San Jose +1500 Winnipeg +5000
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This is a 1* Free Play on the Wizards.
It looks like a good spot to pull the trigger on the home side here, as Denver comes into this one disheartened after falling 116-111 in Brooklyn just last night. Washington should be the much “hungrier” side this evening as it’s dropped three of its last four, including a listless 124-116 setback to Orlando at home last time out. Also note that Denver is just 8-11 ATS in its last 19 as an underdog, while Washington is 3-1 ATS in its last four as a home fav in the 3.5 to six points range. Consider laying the points on the WIZARDS.