It was an incredibly busy night in the NHL, with 22 teams in action. Two goalies scored shutouts, and we’ll talk about each. Also, we’ll look at the cream of the crop, including one of the best goalies in the league who is continuing an incredible streak. Then, we’ll give a brief update on the Jay Bouwmeester news.
Vasilevskiy Hits 19
Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the top goalies in the league, but he may be in the best form of his life right now. With a hard-fought win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, he extended his personal streak of games started with his team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, recording at least a point. The total now stands at 19 games.
Vasilevskiy made 35 saves on 36 shots, playing 62:45 in a game that went to overtime. The only goal he allowed was by scored on the power play by Evgeni Malkin in the middle of the first period. From there, the 25-year-old Russian netminder was perfect, finishing with a .972 save percentage (SV%).
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Penguins collected 13 high danger chances in the game and generated 3.65 expected goals (xG). But those sorts of advanced metrics don’t account for when those shots are being taken against an unbeatable goaltending god, and that’s exactly what Vasilevskiy has been lately. Even after a rocky start, he is right back on track for a repeat Vezina Trophy performance.
Fresh off the trade of forward Jason Zucker, the Minnesota Wild were desperate for some good news. Goaltender Alex Stalock provided precisely the boost his struggling team needed by delivering a clutch shutout on Tuesday night.
Facing a dangerous Vegas Golden Knights team that had scored 12 goals in its previous two games, Stalock and the Wild defense were in top form. He made all 26 saves required of him to help his team win, with a game-winning first-period goal from Joel Eriksson Ek. But the defense did a good job too, limiting the Golden Knights to just eight high danger chances and 1.92 xG.
After the game, Stalock spoke about the significance of the timing of the performance, given its relation to the Zucker trade.
I think it’s just obvious. Not only a locker room-favorite guy, but a community, a city, and a state favorite got sent out of here, yeah? Sends a little wave through the locker room. And I think we know we have almost, like, a deadline, and we need to prove that we want it. And tonight was a good effort to prove to him [presumably Wild general manager Bill Guerin] that we have the club.Stalock’s post-game comments
Guerin made it clear this morning in no uncertain terms that the Zucker trade would be just the beginning of the player movement if he detected “quit” in his team. With Stalock’s effort, the Wild have taken the first step in preventing that reality. They face the New York Rangers on Thursday, and tradition would dictate that the shutout performer will get an opportunity to extend his streak.
Grubauer Also Perfect
Another Central Division goaltender, Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche, matched Stalock’s perfection yesterday. Facing the Ottawa Senators, the 28-year-old German goalie made 34 saves and gave his team the advantage in a 3-0 victory.
Though the Senators were goalless, they were not without fight. They managed 3.28 xG in the game and took six shots on two power plays, but Grubauer was unmoved. He blocked all 13 of the Senators’ high danger chances as well. After the game, Grubauer commented on his team’s performance and their winning tendencies of late.
“Consistency is key here, going into the playoffs too. I think we did a really good job the last couple games, and I think that’s what we need to build on… Feels great coming back and getting that win. Really proud of the guys, how they played in front of me, like we didn’t give up too many crazy chances, so, it doesn’t matter how many shots they get. As long as we keep them to the outside, it’s great.”Grubauer during a postgame interview
Grubauer’s win was the Avalanche’s fifth in the row and, with the postponement of the St. Louis Blues game (which we’ll discuss in a moment), moves them into first place in the Central Division. They’ll play Grubauer’s former team, the Washington Capitals, on Thursday night.
Bouwmeester Alert, Stable
Obviously he is not a goaltender, but the biggest NHL story on Tuesday night was Blues’ defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The 36-year-old member of the elusive Triple Gold Club collapsed on the bench shortly after finishing a shift in the Blues’ game against the Anaheim Ducks. The medical staff on the scene got to work immediately and may have saved the veteran’s life.
According to a statement from Blues general manager Doug Armstrong: Blues and Ducks medical trainers and staff “were able to stabilize Jay.” Moreover, “he was alert and moving all of his extremities as he was transported to UC Irvine Medical Center.” Suffering what Armstrong described as “a cardiac episode,” Bouwmeester was “conscious and alert as he [underwent] further testing by Anaheim’s physicians.”
The Blues plan to update his condition on Wednesday morning, and obviously we will keep you posted on all that news here. In the meantime, the thoughts and prayers of all of the Hockey Writers family go out to Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues, and the hockey community.
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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.