THW’s Goalie News: Player Poll, KHL All-Star Moments & Week in Review

It’s Monday and that means we will take a look back at the week that was in National Hockey League goaltending. Also, nearly half the players in the league were polled about who the best netminder in the league is. And finally, the Kontinental Hockey League held their All-Star Game over the weekend and gave us some fun moments to share.

Price Ranked Highest Among Players

The staff over at The Athletic have spent the first half of the season polling players from across the league on many different subjects including outdoor games, officiating and rule changes. With nearly half of all the players polled, 392 to be exact, we got some pretty good answers.

Among the questions concerning current players, one which was asked was who do you want starting in goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens got 33% of the votes.

“He’s just been so good for so long. Everyone, especially in that position, has their ups and downs,” said a Pacific player from a different team. “He always finds a way to bounce back. In a Game 7, regardless of how he’d been playing in the months before, I feel like he can just bring it. And he’s so technically good. He always has that to fall back on.”

From “The 2020 NHL Poll,” The Athletic – 1/20/20

Marc-Andre Fleury (23%), Andrei Vasilevsky (11%), Tukka Rask (7%) and Jordan Binnington (7%) rounded out the top five.

KHL All-Stars Have a Blast

As far as All-Star Games go, the KHL seems to have nailed the showmanship aspect of them. For the past few seasons, they have added a lot of fun to the event, especially during the skill competition. We have seen some great trick shots, but this year’s edition featured a goalie versus goalie shootout.

Fans of the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres likely remember left-winger Linus Omark. He had eight goals and 32 points in 79 career NHL games earlier this decade. He has spent the last six seasons in the KHL with the last five playing for Salavat Yulaev Lifa “A.”

Omark made the All-Star Game with 10 goals and 43 points in 46 games. For whatever reason, Omark decided to play goal during the first period of the bronze medal game. Not only did he hold his own, but he returned for the shootout and won the game for his team!

Week in Review

Who’s Hot?

Elvis Merzlikins has been spectacular since taking over the starting job for the injured Joonas Korpisalo. Last week, he won all three of starts including shutouts over both the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. He allowed two goals against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Those were the only two goals he allowed on 109 shots for an amazing .982 save percentage (SV%).

Columbus Blue Jackets Elvis Merzlikins
Merzlikins has been the man in Columbus. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

With his two shutouts, Merzlikins became just the seventh rookie goaltender since 1943-44 to register three shutouts in a four-game span. His efforts earned him the Second Star of the Week honors from the NHL.

Who’s Not?

Jordan Binnington is not a name we see in this section very often, if ever. The hero of the Stanly Cup playoffs hit a bump in the road this past week with a pair of bad starts.

He gave up four goals to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday before getting pulled in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday after giving up four goals on seven shots. He finished the week with a 4.78 goals-against average and a .778 SV%.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington
A rare rough week for Binnington and the Blues. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

“It was more of a quality over quantity game tonight, and they capitalized on their chances,” Binnington said after an early exit in Denver. “I got to be there to make some big saves for them when we needed it and, unfortunately, it’s a tough way to go into the break for me, but it is what it is. We’ll just get some time away and come back regrouped.”

Backup of the Week

Braden Holtby has been struggling of late, but the Washington Capitals have not skipped a beat thanks to Ilya Samsonov. The young 22-year-old netminder started was the winner in all three of the Capitals’ games last week, starting in two of them.

Samsonov started his week with 23 saves to pick up his first career NHL shutout over the Hurricanes on Monday. He got the call against the Devils on Thursday and made another 32 saves in a 5-2 victory.

Ilya Samsonov Washington Capitals
The Capitals are in good hands with Samsonov. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He took over for Holtby at the start of the third period in Saturday night’s epic comeback at the New York Islanders. The Capitals were trailing 4-1 when Samsonov entered the game and roared back to score five goals in the final frame. He stopped all seven shots he faced to help the Capitals earn a big 6-4 victory. His week ended with three wins to goal along with a sterling 0.86 GAA and .969 SV%.