by Patrick Hoffman on 10/17/08 at 12:45 PM ET
At the end of last season, Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Nabokov were all Vezina Trophy candidate’s as the league’s top goaltender.
This season, it appears that they are all trying to accomplish that same feat as all three netminders are in the top 10 when it comes to goals-against average, save percentage and more importantly, wins. These masked men are one of the main reasons why their teams are all off to good starts and why going forward, they could all end up being very difficult to beat.
No matter how old he gets or how much the team in front of him changes, Brodeur has been the model of consistency when it comes to goaltending. Through four games, Brodeur is 3-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and one shutout.
Last night against the Atlanta Thrashers, the Devils’ netminder picked up his 97th career shutout, just six away from Terry Sawchuk’s record of 103 while also moving within 11 victories of passing Patrick Roy on the all-time list.
“You don’t want to get nervous,” Brodeur told the Associated Press after last night’s 1-0 victory over the Thrashers. “It’s so far away. When it comes down to it, there will be more emphasis on it.”
Across the Hudson River, Brodeur’s rival Henrik Lundqvist has also put up stellar numbers through his first five games of the season. The “King” is 4-1 with a 1.61 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. He has given his team a chance to win every game thus far and will have to be stellar tomorrow night against the offensively-powered Detroit Red Wings.
Nabokov is picking up where he left off last season as he is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. With the way he’s playing and the way the rest of his team is performing, this could be the Sharks’ best chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Another goalie that should be mentioned for his fine play to start the season is Buffalo’s Ryan Miller. Miller is 2-0 with a 0.96 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. Buffalo looks much better than they did last season and should be able to qualify for the playoffs come April, especially if Miller is able to provide consistent play throughout the course of the regular season.
It’s very early on in the season and these numbers may not mean much now. However, each of these netminders are winning for their respective hockey clubs and giving them hope that with them between the pipes, they will be able to have a successful 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.
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