Withing another week of gameplay in the books for the NHL’s 2021-22 season, the collection of goaltending storylines continues to grow. Some showcase positive streaks of success, while others exacerbate struggles that a tandem just can’t seem to shake.
As the league prepares for another busy weekend, sure to bring about a whole new set of storylines, these are the narratives that proved most headline-worthy between Nov. 13-Nov. 19.
NHL Goaltending Stat Leaders
Here are the current leaders in wins (W), goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%), shutouts (SO), and goals saved above expected per 60 (GSAx/60), among the group of goalies who’ve played at least eight games to date in 2021-22.
W: Frederik Andersen & Jack Campbell (10)
GAA: Jack Campbell (1.63)
SV%: Jack Campbell (.944)
SO: Jacob Markström (5)
GSAx/60: Sergei Bobrovsky (1.720)
While Markström continues to shut out his opponents, Campbell has found himself atop the leaderboards in his own right. Most notably, he and former teammate Andersen now share the lead in win totals. Which side will prove to maintain their momentum long enough to break the tie?
Tokarski Sets New Personal Record in Buffalo
Dustin Tokarski was drafted in 2008 and made his NHL debut in 2009-10. However, heading into 2021-22, he still hadn’t yet reached the 50-game mark. Most of his recent experience had actually occurred in the American Hockey League (AHL), including having captured the 2019 Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers.
However, early on in 2021-22, the 32-year-old is already beefing up his resume in ways that could help him find a more long-term role with the Buffalo Sabres.
Through nine starts, Tokarski has already been forced to manage shot counts of 35 or more on four separate occasions. A hefty workload seems to be his preference, though. As evidenced by his Nov. 16 performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s not just that Tokarski faced 46 shots that night, it’s that he stopped 45 of them. That now stands as his highest save count to date. While the Sabres certainly hope they can continue to rely on those types of stats, they’d better secure his services before he hits free agency at the conclusion of this season.
Sorokin Struggling to Sustain Streaks of Success
Streaks are normal over the course of an 82 game season — expected, really. Yet, the pattern that Ilya Sorokin has stitched together thus far isn’t the kind set to help his New York Islanders find any semblance of sustained success.
Sorokin struggled out of the gate in 2021-22, only stopping 59 of 69 through his first two starts – both losses. Then, he seemed ready to steamroll the league during a five-game winning streak. During which he added three shutouts to his totals.
Sometimes, teams fail despite strong showings in net. Unfortunately, for the Islanders, New York’s struggles seem to align with Sorokin’s. He was even pulled against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 16, after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first period. A performance that resulted in a -2.78 GSAx.
If the Islanders hope to reach a more exciting part of this rollercoaster, they’ll need to find a way to break their current four-game losing streak. In order for that to occur, Sorokin needs to balance his output much more effectively. Especially if he expects his, or his team’s, stat line to see any meaningful success by year’s end.
Gibson Giving Ducks Opportunity to Succeed
It’s fair to say that the Anaheim Ducks are proving doubters wrong so far this season. Collectively, they’re performing well beyond pre-season expectations. Yet, they wouldn’t be 10-5-3 without the workhorse doing the heavy lifting being managed between their pipes.
John Gibson has been considered among the NHL’s best since his impressive rookie campaign in 2015-16, but the teams in front of him through recent seasons haven’t helped his reputation. Well, so far in 2021-22, things are clicking across the board in Anaheim and Gibson is the glue holding it all together.
Prior to their Nov. 18 loss to the powerhouse Carolina Hurricanes, the Ducks were riding an eight-game winning streak. With Gibson in net for seven of them, that’s now his longest personal streak to date, surpassing his previous mark of six from 2017-18.
It’s not just that beating the Washington Capitals on Nov. 16 set a new record for the netminder, it’s the performances he’s been putting in along the way. That night alone, he stopped 28 of 30. Looking at his season as a whole, Gibson is 9-3-2 through his first 14 games, with a 2.31 GAA, .926 SV%, and one shutout.
This Weekend Across the NHL
As the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, and Chicago Blackhawks look to maintain their league-leading hot streaks, the Seattle Kraken and Islanders are hoping they can break out of their cold ones.
With notable names in net for each respective franchise, there’s no denying the influence that their performances will have on the direction each team is headed as next week’s schedule gets underway.
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