In today’s goalie news, we’ll look at Sunday’s lone shutout, one goalie who made two spectacular saves, and we’ll look back at the week in review.
Georgiev Stops Them All
The future of the New York Rangers’ net is in safe hands. They have a very bright prospect in 2014 fourth-round Igor Shestyorkin, who is dominating the American Hockey League with the Hartford Wolf Pack this season. And immediately behind Henrik Lundqvist, they have the dependable Alexander Georgiev, who recorded his second shutout in four games on Sunday.
Facing the Vegas Golden Knights, Georgiev stopped 38 shots, including five on the power play and nine from dangerous scoring threat Max Pacioretty, to maintain his spotless record for the game. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights had an incredible 21 high danger chances at all strengths, and yet Georgiev turned them all aside.
It seemed impossible that the Rangers would be able to replace the legendary Lundqvist, who moved into fifth place on the NHL’s all-time wins leaderboard. But with Georgiev already effectively splitting time with Lundqvist, and Shestyorkin dominating the AHL at just 23-years-old, it looks like the Rangers may have another generation of top-flight goaltending ahead of them.
Lehner Stands on His Head… Twice
Robin Lehner has been sensational this season with his new team, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bill Masterton Award winner from last season entered Sunday 6-5-3, with a .929 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.71 goals against average (GAA, due largely to the team’s poor defense). On Sunday, he demonstrated some of the skills that make him so special, with one of the most impressive saves you’ll see all season.
On this first play, Clayton Keller, one of the Coyotes’ most potent threat and their second-highest point scorer, gets all alone with the puck in the circle. He braces to slot it top corner, but Lehner makes a spectacular glove save to keep the Blackhawks in the game. It was a save worth a point in the standings, as the two teams remained level and pushed the game into overtime. But Lehner wasn’t done.
In overtime, Jakob Chychrun received a backdoor feed, but couldn’t bury it before Lehner got over for another incredible save. The Blackhawks ultimately fell in the shootout, where Lehner has admitted he struggles in the past; however, without his contributions, there’s no question they wouldn’t have gotten a point at all.
Week in Review
There’s no hotter goaltender in the world than Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s recorded back-to-back shutouts and is making a strong run at the starting job in the Steel City. But there are other red-hot goalies in the league.
Semyon Varlamov has made three great starts this week. He’s made 61 saves on 64 shots, good for a .953 SV% and a 1.45 GAA. So far this season, he is more than justifying the Islanders’ gamble on him in the offseason.
Finally, Ben Bishop, who is strengthening his case to be considered one of the best goaltenders in the league, has gone 2-0-1 so far in December. He’s got a .951 SV% and a 1.61 GAA. He is presently third in the league amongst goalies with 20-plus starts at a .932 SV%.
It almost seems unsporting to pick on Martin Jones at this point, but he does carry a .795 SV% in his last two games. He’s allowed nine goals on 44 shots and hasn’t given his San Jose Sharks a chance in those games (against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.)
Also, anyone hoping Louis Domingue would be the answer to the goaltending woes for the New Jersey Devils had better think again. He’s been even worse than Jones in his last two starts, allowing 11 goals on 52 shots for a .788 SV%.
Finally, Alex Stalock has been poor in three opportunities this week. He’s got an .891 SV% and a 3.60 GAA, although he has faced an average of 33-plus shots in each of those games. Even with the poor performance, the Minnesota Wild have won two of those three matchups. Still, they likely are hoping that Devan Dubnyk, who has been out tending to his wife’s health, can return sooner rather than later.
Backup of the Week: Jake Allen
There are a number of strong candidates for backup of the week this week. The most obvious is Jarry, whose back-to-back shutouts have him primed to likely take home Star of the Week honors from the NHL when those drop tomorrow. But there’s some debate whether Jarry even is a backup at this point, and he’s certainly been discussed at length in recent issues.
Malcolm Subban, the stalwart backup to Marc-Andre Fleury for the Golden Knights, had also been strong before Sunday. With Fleury away from the team after his father’s unfortunate passing, Subban got four starts this week. He went 2-0-1 with a .927 SV% in the first three but got drubbed by the Rangers 5-0 in Georgiev’s shutout to lose these honors.
Instead, Jake Allen Takes the nod. His last two starts were wins, and he was even strong in relief of Jordan Binnington on Saturday. The much-maligned St. Louis Blues backup has stopped 84-of-86 shots in his last three appearances and looks like a totally different goaltender than he did at the start of the season.
No one is likely to begin a goaltending controversy in St. Louis after what Binnington did last season, but the difference between a strong Allen and one who cannot be trusted could be the difference between a Stanley Cup repeat and a disappointing finish for the overworked Blues.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.