The Washington Capitals have been one of the best teams in the National Hockey League to start the season and they have done that with a struggling netminder. It appears that their star goaltender is starting to right the ship which is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Also, one of the all-time greats lands a new job and the save of the night comes from Beer Town, USA.
Holtby Hitting His Stride
Fans in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night were treated to great goaltending matchup when the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the Capitals. Both Braden Holtby and Carter Hart were on their games, making a combined 65 saves on the night.
Holtby, who made 30 saves, was the difference-maker in the shootout by stopping two of the three shots he faced to give his team a 2-1 victory. Claude Giroux was the only player to get the puck past him with a goal in the third period before scoring on his shootout attempt.
“Every time your goalie only lets in one, you should get at least a point out of that,” Capitals forward Lars Eller said. “Gives us a very good chance to win, and that’s all we can ask of him. He certainly did his part tonight.”
The win was Holtby’s 266th career victory, tying Felix Potvin for 50th in NHL history. The victory also extended the Capitals’ point streak to 13 straight games. That is a pretty amazing accomplishment when you consider that Holtby has been struggling for much of the season.
The 30-year-old netminder currently has a 3.06 goals-against average (GAA) and a .903 save percentage (SV%), which are both well below his career marks of a 2.49 GAA and .918 SV%. However, things have been looking up for Holtby of late. His numbers have been improving as he has given up two or fewer goals in three of his last four starts.
Luongo Returns to the Panthers
It did not take future Hall of Fame goaltender Roberto Luongo to get back into the NHL. No, he isn’t making a comeback on the ice, but he is returning to the Florida Panthers. The team announced on Wednesday afternoon that Luongo has been brought on as a special adviser to general manager Dale Tallon.
“I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with Roberto during his time playing for the Panthers and am proud to welcome him to our franchise’s hockey operations staff,” said Tallon in an official statement. “Roberto always approached every game with an unmatched work ethic and we are confident he will take to this new role with the same passion. A cornerstone player in our franchise’s history, we are thrilled that ‘Lu’ will have a hand in shaping our franchise’s future.”
Luongo played 11 of his 19 NHL seasons with the Panthers. He leads the franchise in games played (572), wins (230) and shutouts (38). He also set single-season records in games played (75, 2005-06) wins (35, 2005-06, 2015-16), saves (2,303) and shutouts (7, 2003-04).
Sharks Have Help Waiting in the Wings
The San Jose Sharks have been playing better hockey of late and have started to climb out of the early-season hole they dug themselves into. They have followed up their five-game losing streak by winning their last four games in a row.
There recent hot streak has them out of the cellar of the Pacific Division and just four points out of a wild card spot. However, the play of goaltender Martin Jones has many concerned about their chances for another deep playoff run.
Jones had the worst season of his NHL career in 2018-19 with a 2.94 GAA and .896 SV% in 62 games for the Sharks. This season is off to an even worse start with a 3.28 GAA and .887. Jones is not the sole reason for San Jose’s poor play to start the season, but he certainly isn’t helping things. Backup goaltender Aaron Dell’s numbers are even worse in his six games this season.
Could there be help on the way? Possibly. Josef Korenar has played very well this season for the San Jose Barracuda in the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old netminder was an AHL All-Star last season after signing out of the Czech Republic as an undrafted free agent. He finished his fantastic rookie season with a 23-8-2 record to go along with a 2.54 GAA and .911 SV%.
He was the starting goaltender for the Barracuda’s Calder Cup playoff run last spring and held on to that job to start the new season. He had a 2.27 GAA and .914 SV% in his first seven starts of the season. Those numbers took a hit on Wednesday night when he surrendered nine goals to the San Diego Gulls, but that should not overshadow his overall performance.
With the play of both Jones and Dell in the NHL, many Sharks fans are wondering when Korenar will get his shot in San Jose.
Ingram Commits Robbery, Twice
Speaking of the AHL, the save of the night came from the NHL’s feeder league. The Milwaukee Admirals beat the Chicago Wolves, 6-3, to extend their current winning streak to five consecutive games and to take over first place in the Central Division.
Connor Ingram made 20 saves for his fifth win on the season. With the Wolves trying to mount a late-game comeback, Tyrell Goulbourne looked like he had a sure goal waiting for him at the backdoor. Ingram had different ideas by sliding to his left and making a great pad save to deny Goulbourne. He then recovered to stop the rebound attempt with his glove hand. Goulbourne reacted in about the only one could in that situation; just smile and shake your head.
Ingram has been splitting time with veteran Troy Grosenick and the duo has combined for a 2.28 GAA and .927 SV%.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.