There are a lot of great ways to make your NHL debut, but to do it with a 40-save shutout is up near the top. Plus, today is a very historic day for goalies. We’ll dive into it all in today’s goalie news.
Francouz Hurt, Werner’s Big Night
When the Colorado Avalanche drafted Adam Werner in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, they likely couldn’t have envisioned his NHL debut playing out quite how it did. Tonight, he made that debut just over three years after the team drafted him, coming on in emergency relief of team backup Pavel Francouz. The Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele accidentally plowed through Francouz, who himself is playing instead of the injured Philipp Grubauer, just 31 seconds into the game, and suddenly, Werner was on the stage.
It was a terrifying injury for Francouz, who appeared to be knocked out cold. But there wasn’t any time for the Avalanche to collect themselves. It could easily have become a blowout for the Jets, who are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, had Werner not proved himself up to the challenge.
The 22-year-old Swedish goaltender made an incredible 40 saves in his first NHL action, which included facing an unbelievable 19 shots in the third period, to collect a shutout in his debut. Werner accomplished all that despite having started just 13 games in North America before Tuesday night, all at the American Hockey League level.
It’s difficult to know what the future holds for Werner now, though he certainly was an Avalanche prospect to watch entering the season. The immediate future is a bigger concern: Colorado has another game on Thursday, and it doesn’t look likely that Francouz will be ready to go. Grubauer was back in practice, but if he can’t make it back, will Werner be ready to do it again?
Lots of Goalie History
Today is a very historic day for goaltending in the NHL, with lots of strange happenings on Nov. 13 in the past (perhaps they were all Fridays). Here are the highlights:
The Blues Use Three
On this day in 1968, the second-year St. Louis Blues franchise had to use three goaltenders to knock off the New York Rangers. Glenn Hall got a game misconduct 2:01 into the game for complaining to the referee about a call (tough crowd). Robbie Irons took the ice to replace him as Jacques Plante raced from the press box to the locker room, and Irons suffered an injury during his stretches. That forced Plante into action, and the then-40-year-old stopped 21 shots to power the Blues to victory against his former team.
Unfortunately, the call Hall argued was a goal, so he didn’t have a clean sheet to work with. “Too bad I didn’t get credit for the shutout,” Plante quipped after the game. It was certainly an odd night for the Blues. Odder still was that it would be almost 12 years before the Blues won again at Madison Square Garden.
Hall vs. Sawchuck
13 years before he got thrown out for arguing a call as a Blue, Hall was a Detroit Red Wing facing Terry Sawchuck of the Boston Bruins. They played to a 0-0 tie for the second time in a month, for Hall’s fourth career shutout and Sawchuck’s 61st. Hall would finish with 84 and Sawchuck with 103 in their illustrious careers, putting them fourth and second (behind Martin Brodeur) respectively on the all-time list.
Esposito Reaches 400
Speaking of the all-time shutout list, Tony Esposito, the almost-career long Chicago Blackhawk, finished his career with 76, tied for 10th on that list. He is also 10th on the all-time wins list with 423, and on this day in 1982, he crossed off the last major milestone on that list, scoring his 400th win with 34 saves against the Red Wings.
Esposito won three Vezina Trophies and a Calder Trophy in his career, though he could never capture that elusive Stanley Cup. He was also a pioneer of the butterfly style. He was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, and the Blackhawks retired his number 35.
Goalie Gram: Teammate Is Always Teammate
Sometimes, goalies need a little help. Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars had a skate lace come undone during the game, and he needed a little help from his fellow Russian, Alexander Radulov, to reattach it.
Radulov may be more of a power forward, but he showed some finesse in the crease on this one. “Teammate is always teammate,” Khudobin quipped in his Instagram post. Something makes us think he was buying dinner for Radulov that night.
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.