In today’s edition of the goalie news, we’ll look at Mike Smith’s big week, a prospect soaring up in his team’s eyes after a late-round pick, and a backup who just made the catch of a lifetime in British Columbia.
Smith Named Third Star
Mike Smith is having something of a career resurgence with the Edmonton Oilers. Splitting time with Mikko Koskinen, he has posted a .931 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.12 goals against average (GAA) in nine starts. But this last week was his high point of the season so far, with two impressive starts that earned him NHL honors as Third Star of the Week.
With two wins and a 51-save performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Smith helped the Oilers maintain their grasp on first place in the Pacific Division. With players as dominant as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, a strong goaltending tandem could be the difference between the Oilers missing the playoffs and their being a serious threat come April.
Koskinen got the start on Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes. He wasn’t at his best, allowing three goals on 24 shots, but it was enough to propel the Oilers into overtime to grab a point. The team continues to defy preseason naysayers who said they hadn’t done enough to overhaul the roster in the offseason. Perhaps new head coach Dave Tippet has made the difference.
Wolf at the Door
Seventh-round picks in the NHL are always a longshot. Often, you choose a favorite scout and let him or her choose a favorite player. So the Calgary Flames must feel like geniuses about the early returns for their 2019 seventh-round pick, Dustin Wolf.
A goalie for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, Wolf was named the WHL Vaughn Goaltender of the Month for the month of October. The 18-year-old native of Tustin, California currently has a .938 SV% and a 2.07 GAA in 13 games.
Of course, it’s a long way between WHL Goalie of the Month and NHL starter, but May is taking the right steps early in his tenure as a Flames prospect. For a Flames franchise that hasn’t been able to identify a franchise goaltender since Miikka Kiprusoff retired, any good news about one of their goalie prospects is welcome hope on the horizon.
Goalie Gram: The Catch of a Lifetime
Jake Allen hasn’t been catching a lot on the ice lately, as his lackluster numbers are an early-season concern for the St. Louis Blues. And he’s had some catches he’d rather not have made, suffering from the flu in late October that forced him out of action and caused him to lose 15 pounds!
But on Monday, he and defenseman Justin Faulk had the catch of a lifetime on the Fraser River in British Columbia. The team had an off day before facing the Vancouver Canucks, and Faulk and Allen used the free time to take a fishing expedition. It paid off big time, as the pair reeled in an impressive six-foot sturgeon!
The impressive video comes courtesy of the Blues’ Instagram account. Perhaps it will be the confidence boost the pair needs, as each has been struggling somewhat early in the 2019-20 season. The Blues will take on the Canucks on Tuesday night. It’s the first night of a back-to-back, so Allen will likely get one of the next two starts.
Trip to the Archive: Oilers Greats
There’s a ton of great goaltender coverage in the THW archive. Today, take a look at three of the greatest goaltenders ever to play for the historic Oilers franchise. Smith may be winning honors this week, but he’s got a long way to go to catch some of the other legends of the franchise.
You probably know about Grant Fuhr and his four Stanley Cups. But who else makes the top three? Our Marcy Di Michele dug into the numbers to identify the three greatest ever to don a mask in an Oilers sweater.
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.