Today’s look at the world of goaltending takes us all over the map. We will go from the ice in Ottawa, to the hardwood court in Philadelphia and end up at the Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Nilsson Steals the Show Versus Bruins
Andres Nilsson fits the definition of a “journeyman” goaltender perfectly. Since being drafted by the New York Islanders in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Nilsson has been traded five times. After playing in the KHL, the 29-year-old netminder has spent time with seven different NHL organizations including the Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks.
The most recent trade, occurring on Jan. 2, 2019 landed him with the Ottawa Senators. He made his 16th start of the season for the Senators on Monday night and led his team to a 5-2 win over the visiting Boston Bruins.
“It’s great, as a goalie, to stand back there and see when the guys are playing so hard and sacrificing themselves and blocking shots and battling through it even though they’re really tired,” Nilsson said after the win.
Nilsson made 38 saves to help end a 10-game losing streak against the Bruins. The Senators’ previous win over the Bruins, before Monday night, came on April 6, 2017. It was also the seventh time this season where he has made at least 32 saves. The Senators are 5-1-1 in those games.
Hart Rings the Bell
Things are going pretty good at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia these days. The Flyers are currently sitting in third place of the Metropolitan Division in the NHL, while the 76ers are in fourth place of the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Fans who were in attendance for Sunday night’s 76ers game got to see some love between the building’s two tenants. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart came out ring the Liberty Bell replica, which has become a recent tradition before all 76ers home games.
Hart was good luck as the 76ers scored a 110-104 over the Toronto Raptors, the reigning NBA champions.
Some other celebrities who have taken part in this tradition include Bryce Harper of the Phillies, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, comedian Kevin Hart (no relation to Carter) and rapper Meek Mill.
This Date in Goaltending History: Bower Plays his Final Game
On Dec. 10, 1969, goaltender Johnny Bower took to the ice for the last time in his historic NHL career. The 45-year-old netminder made his one and only appearance for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1969-70 season and suffered a 6-3 loss at the Montreal Canadiens.
Bower played 12 seasons in the NHL, the first three with the New York Rangers before nine with the Maple Leafs. He finished his career with a record of 250-192-90, a 2.51 goals-against average (GAA), a .922 save percentage (SV%) and 37 shutouts. He won the Vezina Trophy in 1961 and 1964 and was in goal for the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup triumphs in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. He was the first goaltender to employ the use of the poke check, which has since been a staple in all goaltenders’ arsenal of defensive moves.
He did not make his NHL debut until he was 29-years-old because back in the Original 6 days, teams only carried one goaltender. While he was waiting to finally make it to the NHL, he had a very successful career in the American Hockey League. He spent 11 seasons with the Cleveland Barons where he won three Calder Cup championships. He also won three AHL MVPs and still is the league’s all-time leader in wins with 250, all with the Barons.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and was part of the AHL’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2006. His number one is retired by both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Cleveland Monsters to honor his time with the Barons.