In today’s edition of the Hockey Writers’ goalie news, we’ll discuss the ill-fated debut of Kasimir Kaskisuo, a sterling shutout in the desert, and more.
Kaskisuo Decimated in Debut
Earlier this week in the goalie news, we previewed Kaskisuo’s looming debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Saturday, he played a severely short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins team missing Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby, among others. But the Maple Leafs were on the second half of back-to-back games, a circumstance in which they were 0-4-1 entering this contest. Something had to give.
Unfortunately for Kaskisuo, what “gave” was any semblance of defense from the Maple Leafs. His team abandoned him entirely, and with his mother looking on from the crowd, the Penguins put goal after goal past the young, Finnish netminder. By game’s end, he’d allowed six goals on 38 shots, for a save percentage (SV%) of .842.
Fortunately for Kaskisuo, no one was casting blame on him at the end of the game. Most Maple Leafs fans recognized that the team had abandoned their rookie goaltender, and those fans who were calling for someone’s head were chasing head coach Mike Babcock or other star players, not Kaskisuo.
It’s an interesting time for the Maple Leafs. They’ve suffered many injuries themselves, but their 9-9-4 record is not acceptable for a team expecting to be a Stanley Cup contender entering the season. Babcock is certainly on the hot seat, and fans are looking to general manager Kyle Dubas to manufacture change, whether through firing his coach or making moves somewhere else.
Kuemper Carries the Coyotes
Darcy Kuemper has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season, and Saturday night’s game was no exception. The Arizona Coyotes goalie, who is fourth in the league in SV% (.931) and fourth in the league in goals saved above average (GSAA, 8.68), doubtlessly improved both those numbers with his shutout against the Calgary Flames.
Kuemper turned away all 37 shots from the Flames, including eight on the power play and 14 in the final period. A closer look at the analytics (thanks to Natural Stat Trick) shows that Kuemper’s performance was even more impressive than it looks on paper. He stopped 10 high danger chances throughout the course of the game, and the Flames put up a fairly impressive 2.75 expected goals (xGF). Even so, Kuemper’s record was spotless.
The Coyotes are putting together a very strong season despite struggling to score, thanks to the leading work of Kuemper and his partner Antti Raanta. They are second in the Pacific Division and meet the hapless Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
Check out the THW Goalie Page for everything between the pipes.
The Vancouver Canucks took the ice on Saturday in their gorgeous retro “Skate” sweaters, and their goaltenders, Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko, debuted these masks to match the occasion. Markstrom has the brighter bucket on the left, and Demko’s darker model on the right.
The helmets looked a lot better than Demko’s performance on the night. He allowed five goals on 23 shots, including Nathan MacKinnon’s game-winner 27 seconds into overtime. It was an unfortunate squandering of the Canucks’ impressive comeback, scoring two goals in the final three minutes to tie the game.
On a personal note, the Hockey Writers would like to send our condolences to Markstrom, who announced on Instagram earlier this week that his father had passed away. His loss brings the importance of “Hockey Fights Cancer” into a clearer focus. We wish all the best to Markstrom and his family in this difficult time.
Stephen Ground is a veteran of over three years at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues, NHL goaltending, and the annual World Junior Championship. He is the co-host of the Two Guys One Cup Podcast, a hockey podcast focused on the Blues.