by Patrick Hoffman on 10/16/08 at 05:00 PM ET
Through the first week in the NHL, I’ve noticed that lots of goaltenders, particularly in the Western Conference, are struggling. They’re allowing lots of soft goals, not making the save at key times, leaving lots of rebounds and more noticeably, not getting the W for their team.
The goaltenders I am talking about are Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche), Miika Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Anaheim Ducks), Joey MacDonald (New York Islanders) and Martin Biron (Philadelphia Flyers).
While Raycroft has yet to start a game (that could change in a hurry), Budaj has been terrible in his first three starts. Through his club’s first three games of the season, Budaj is 0-3 with a 4.38 goals-against average and .824 save percentage. He’s allowing a lot of goals, giving up lots of rebounds and more importantly, just not getting the job done. At this rate, the only way the Avalanche will solve their goaltending problems is by asking Patrick Roy to come out of retirement.
When Mike Keenan pulled Kiprussof in Game 7 of last year’s first round against the San Jose Sharks, I knew that Kiprussof was in trouble. At the time, he was already having some confidence problems so that only added to it. Six months later, it looks like the Flames’ goaltender is Swiss cheese as he is 1-1-1 with a 4.89 goals against average and a .826 save percentage. If Kipper doesn’t shape up soon, he may find himself riding the pine.
Giguere certainly isn’t getting “Jiggy” with it in Anaheim as he is 0-3 with a 4.38 goals-against average and .851 save percentage. These numbers are certainly below the norm for Giguere as he boasts a career-goals-against average of 2.44 and a .915 save percentage.
With Rick DiPietro still not in the lineup, the New York Islanders could be in trouble if they have to rely on Joey MacDonald to be their No.1 guy. MacDonald is 1-2 with a 3.67 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage. He was especially shaky in his team’s 7-1 loss to the Sabres’ on Monday afternoon. Fittingly, that game was “kid’s day” at the team’s arena (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) and MacDonald certainly looks like one in goal thus far.
For someone who is supposed to lead his team far into the playoffs and who is coming off a pretty solid season, starting out 0-2 with a 6.32 goals-against average and a .800 save percentage isn’t going to cut it. In his club’s season opening 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, Biron allowed all four goals in the first period and looked especially slow on Fredrik Sjostrom’s wraparound goal. Hopefully, it’s just early season jitters and not something that will continue throughout the season.
Yes, it’s only the beginning of the season and there is a lot of hockey left to be played but if these goaltenders do not get their acts together, their respective teams could be in for a long, playoff-less season.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.