31 of the 32 NHL franchises have now played at least 10 games, which means there is a more logical sample size to work with when it comes to determining which clubs are trending better than the rest. That said, not every starter has had their share of ice time so it leaves much to be determined in terms of who will reign best by season’s end.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a handful of netminders who have found a way to make headlines of their own. Whether from managing a hefty workload or shining through a single start, there are already names that have emerged as deserving of their spotlight. Whether or not that shine is temporary, though, is yet to be seen.
These are the athletes that worked their way into the THW Goalie Report for the week of Nov. 2-Nov. 8.
NHL Goaltending Stat Leaders
Reflecting on the group of goalies who have each played at least five games to this point, these are the ones that currently lead the league in wins (W), goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%), shutouts (SO), and goals saved above expected per 60 (GSAx/60).
W: Frederik Andersen (8)
GAA: James Reimer (1.60)
SV%: Sergei Bobrovsky (.948)
SO: Jacob Markström (4)
GSAx/60: Sergei Bobrovsky (2.246)
The exact same set of names that sit atop the rest are those who were there last week. Although, one has taken over in an additional category while another lost their spot in that same regard. Did you catch that?
Kudos to these netminders for maintaining their pace as best in the league early on, but don’t be surprised to see even more fluctuation occur across the leaderboards, as every club continues to navigate through more of their respective schedules.
Campbell Coming Up Big in Toronto
Frederik Andersen’s departure from the Toronto Maple Leafs this past offseason should have meant that their net was then Jack Campbell‘s to own. Especially given his impressive run through 2020-21, which concluded in a record of 17-3-2. Yet, the Maple Leafs obviously felt that adding a fellow starter in Petr Mrázek would strengthen their overall outlook.
Unfortunately, Mrázek’s history of injury troubles followed him into his new city. Sidelined, again, he’s only found his way into two games thus far this season. His 1-1-0 record is explainable, but a 4.20 GAA and .877 SV% are certainly not the numbers Toronto anticipated when constructing this 1A/1B tandem.
Luckily for the Maple Leafs, Mrázek’s being out of their lineup has forced them to rely more heavily on Campbell in the meantime. Following a few rough outings through some recent starts, Campbell showed up ready to play this past week. He went 3-0-0 against organizations that many predicted as powerhouse teams throughout 2021-22.
It’s not just that he shut out the Vegas Golden Knights (Nov. 2), stood tall against the Tampa Bay Lightning (Nov. 4), and shut the game down against the Boston Bruins (Nov. 6). While his numbers can do all the talking to highlight the week he had, witnessing his ability to come up big when it mattered most is what should calm Toronto’s fanbase with Campbell at the helm.
Wedgewood Ends Dry Spell in Arizona
Not a lot has gone right for the Arizona Coyotes throughout the start of their 2021-22 campaign. Despite a strong showing from rookie Karel Vejmelka, the Coyotes began the year with an 11-game losing streak, only picking up a single point from a shootout loss in their second contest of the season. What’s made things is worse is that veteran Carton Hutton has yet to infuse any sense of experience into this lacklustre lineup.
With Hutton out due to injury, the Coyotes had no choice but to seek additional support for their backend. A familiar storyline saw them pick up Scott Wedgewood after the New Jersey Devils placed him on waivers. Throughout his four-year career, he’s already moved back and forth between the Devils and Coyotes multiple times.
Yet, that’s not even the climax of this coincidence. Following 11 straight losses to start the 2017-18 season, it was Wedgewood that helped them secure their first victory after he was traded to Arizona from New Jersey a couple of days prior. Sound familiar?
The Coyotes have finally captured their first win of 2021-22, thanks to Wedgewood’s 27 save performance against the Seattle Kraken on Nov. 6. While Vejmelka has earned the right to continue owning Arizona’s No. 1 role, Wedgewood will certainly steal some of those starts if he continues whipping up a winning recipe for the Coyotes.
Jones Finding His Fit With Flyers
To say that Martin Jones had experienced a downturn in recent seasons with the San Jose Sharks would be putting it lightly. His 3.28 GAA, .896 SV%, and -18.9 GSAx led him to a record of 15-13-4 in 2020-21. And it’s not like 2019-20 went much better for him or the Sharks, either.
Obviously, things weren’t going to plan in San Jose. So much so that the organization chose to buy out Jones’ contract rather than give him a chance to bounce back and earn his keep in what would have been the final three years of that term.
Fortunately for Jones, the Flyers were looking to gamble this offseason and they signed him to a one-year deal. Recognizing the role he was brought in to manage was a good sign of maturity out of the veteran, which would bode well for a Flyers team hoping to do whatever it would take to find its way back into the postseason.
“I’m coming in to be the best that I can, to push Carter [Hart],” Jones said. “He’s obviously a very talented young goalie, and if we can push each other to be better, that’s going to be the best thing for the team.”
Both netminders are getting the job done in Philadelphia, as the Flyers currently own the second-lowest goals-against total in the Eastern Conference. However, it’s performances like the one Jones put in against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 6 that deserve more of the attention at the moment.
He saved 31 of 32 that night, stopping all of Alexander Ovechkin’s six shots on net, which was good for a 2.46 GSAx. Now 3-0-0, perhaps a supporting role is what suits Jones – and any team he’s playing for – best moving forward.
Stars Will Shine Through Week 5
As the league works its way through its fifth week of the 2021-22 campaign, expect the best goalies to continue helping their teams reach the same type of results. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if struggling franchises continue to call on fresh faces in hopes that it can turn their season around.
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.