Today, we’ll talk about the many shutouts around the league on Saturday. Then, we’ll discuss Corey Crawford’s injury scare, and dig deeper into whether anyone knows what goalie interference even is.
Hutton and Varlamov Battle
Entering the season, there were significant questions about the goaltending for both the New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres. But thanks to strong performances from New York newcomer Semyon Varlamov and Carter Hutton, both teams are in second place in their divisions. The two met in Buffalo Saturday, and the duel was exactly what we’ve come to expect of the goalies on the young season.
Both Hutton and Varlamov were stellar, but only one goalie could take home the victory. Hutton allowed one goal on 21 shots, while Varlamov was perfect against 27. His performance was enough to give the Islanders their ninth straight victory.
Questions still linger about the Islanders’ decision to let Robin Lehner go to the Chicago Blackhawks over the summer, and last year’s Bill Masterton Trophy winner has been stellar in six starts in the Windy City. But Varlamov is proving himself up to the task in New York. Prior to this start, he was 4-2 with a 2.53 goals against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%).
Saturday’s slate featured a number of other shutout performances around the league. Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes saved 33 shots, seven of them on the power play, to blank the Colorado Avalanche. No one had held the Avalanche scoreless yet this season, but they are finding goals harder to come by without Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen in the lineup.
The Calgary Flames have been giving up a lot of shots recently, but fortunately for them, David Rittich was prepared to save a lot of shots on Saturday. He stopped all 43 shots the Columbus Blue Jackets took against him. Meanwhile, in Sunrise, Florida, Sergei Bobrovsky continued to get back on track with the Florida Panthers. He stopped 22 shots from the Detroit Red Wings for his first shutout in his new home.
Corey Crawford has been an incredible goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks at times in his career, helping them win two Stanley Cups and taking home two Jennings Trophies of his own. But in recent years, he’s struggled to stay healthy and has dealt with multiple concussions. Which is what made the news that he left Saturday’s game to enter concussion protocol so frightening.
Lehner, whom the team brought in primarily as an insurance policy for Crawford, took over in his absence. But fortunately, Crawford passed whatever tests he took and returned to the game. He performed well on both sides of the injury, but his 40 saves weren’t quite enough to get the win. The Kings took the victory 4-3 in overtime.
Goalie Interference Controversy
In the NHL, there are few penalties less well-understood than goaltender interference. The controversial penalty reared its head again in a tight matchup between the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
In a game where the Wild had all the momentum, they notched what would have been their fourth goal to take a 4-2 lead. But the Blues challenged the goal based on this play between Zach Parise and goaltender Jake Allen.
Despite protests (even from the Blues radio broadcast team), the goal was overturned. It gave them a second life, and they capitalized to win the game 4-3 in overtime.
A quick scan of the THW archive shows that goaltender interference has been highly controversial for a long time. And calls like this one are the reason why. No one, not coaches, goaltenders, or even broadcasters, seems to understand the standard.
Goalie Gram: Shape of You
There are good Halloween costumes. There are great Halloween costumes. And then there’s Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen’s Halloween costume. The danish redhead was a dead ringer for British singer Ed Sheeran, guitar and all.
Andersen nailed this look, and then he went onto nail his next performance. On Saturday, he helped the Maple Leafs survive the Philadelphia Flyers, including withstanding 11 rounds of a shootout, the longest in Maple Leafs history.
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.