It’s Monday and that means it is time for our look back at the last seven days in the world of goaltending. In addition to our Week in Review, we have a rare streak in Boston and a huge save from a veteran in Anaheim.
Rask Keeps on Winning
The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams during the first month of the National Hockey League season. They have earned points in each of their last nine games to take over first place of the Atlantic Division.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask has been one of the biggest reasons for the Bruins’ early-season success. He has started eight of the Bruins first 13 games and after a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, has gone 7-0-1. He has become just the fourth netminder in franchise history to start a season with points in at least his first eight starts of the season. It is the first such streak since 1978.
Ross Brooks holds the Bruins record with an 11-game point streak to start the 1972-73 season. Gerry Cheevers, who had an eight-game streak in 1975-76, also had points in his first nine starts of the 1978-79 season.
Miller Shows He Still Has It
Ryan Miller took the crease for the 762nd time in his NHL career when he got the starting nod for the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. After giving up two first-period goals to the Chicago Blackhawks, Miller stood tall and helped the Ducks force overtime to earn a well-deserved point.
His biggest save of the night came while the Blackhawks were on the power play late in the third period. Andrew Shaw found himself all alone at the doorstep and had the Blackhawks’ third goal on his stick, but Miller had a different idea.
Despite the effort, the Blackhawks got the last laugh as Patrick Kane scored early in overtime to take the extra point. Miller has been very good for the Ducks this season, backing up John Gibson, with 2.30 goals-against average (GAA) and .926 save percentage (SV%) in five appearances.
Week in Review
The Edmonton Oilers are sitting atop the Pacific Division and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for the most points in the Western Conference. While their offensive superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid grab most of the headlines, goaltender Mike Smith had himself quite the week.
The 37-year-old veteran has formed a very nice goaltending tandem with Mikko Koskinen. The duo has posted a combined .927 GAA and 2.24 SV%, so far, this season.
Smith won both of this starts this past week to improve his record to 5-3-1. On Wednesday night, he made 23 saves in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. His performance on Saturday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Penguins was, by far, his best game of the early season. He made a season-high 51 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over Sidney Crosby and company.
When we decided to add this section to our Week in Review, I never thought I’d be including Andrei Vasilevskiy in it at any point this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been struggling this season with a 5-4-0 record and a 3.12 GAA and .904 SV%. These numbers are far cry from the 2.40 GAA and .925 SV% he posted a season ago.
Vasilevskiy had two starts last week and gave up a combined seven goals on 66 shots in a pair of defeats in New York. He finished the week with a 3.59 GAA and .894 SV%.
If the Stanley Cup playoffs were to start today, the Tampa Bay Lightning would be sitting at home watching with the rest of us. While there are still 69 games left on their schedule and plenty of time to get things rolling, the Lightning are finding that points are not as easy to come by as they were last season.
Backup of the Week
While it is hard to imagine anyone else in the New York Rangers’ crease beside Henrik Lundqvist, the team may have found their goaltender of the future. 23-year-old Alexander Georgiev has been spectacular in his limited time for the Rangers this season.
Georgiev made two starts this past week against two Stanley Cup contenders. On Tuesday, he made 29 saves in 4-1 win over the Lightning. He followed that up with a 32-save performance in Saturday’s 2-1 road upset of the Nashville Predators.
The Bulgarian-born netminder posted a 1.00 GAA and .968 SV% in his two wins last week. He and Lundqvist have both started six games this season, so it could only be a matter of time before we stop considering Georgiev as being a backup.