In today’s edition of THW’s goalie news, we’ll take a look at one of the strangest goals you’ll see all season. No goalie can stop them all, but every goalie should stop this one. We’ll also dive into a showdown between two of the top young goalies in the league, and look at the week in review.
What Just Happened, Allen?
Sometimes when it rains, it pours. Jake Allen has had a rough go of it the past few seasons. The longtime St. Louis Blues goalie finally lost his job to Jordan Binnington last season after a run of bad play, only to see his replacement go on to finish second in the Calder Trophy voting and help the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup. And through it all, Allen was the consummate professional, supporting his teammates and saying all the right things.
Which is what makes this goal that much tougher to watch…
On the opening faceoff of the second period of the Blues game against the Montreal Canadiens, Brendan Gallagher got tangled at the line with Colton Parayko. Unable to enter the zone cleanly, he tried to throw the puck behind the net to get it in deep. Allen attempted to make a routine play with his stick to knock the puck safely clear of the goal, but disaster struck.
It’s difficult to tell at first glance, but the puck somehow caromed off his stick twice and went up into the top of the net. After that, the Blues collapsed mentally and went onto lose the game 5-2.
We still had a chance to climb back in the game, I just thought I let a lot of wind out of our sails with that, and we never got back on our feet in that period especially, we got into a little bit of track meet. We had our chances, Price played well, but, you know, it just… didn’t look like our style of game, and we gotta find a way to get back to that, but again, that’s a lot on me.Jake Allen accepting responsibility for the Blues loss
It’s a brutal break for the embattled backup. The Blues upset many fans when news broke that they intended to keep Allen in the offseason despite his $4.3 million salary-cap hit. Now, after two starts, he’s 1-1, but he’s allowed eight goals on 53 shots for a save percentage (SV%) of .849. It’s not where fans, or Allen himself, wanted him to be at this season.
Shutout For Blackwood
In some games, it’s unfair that either goalie has to lose. When the Vancouver Canucks took on the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, two of the NHL’s most promising young goalies took the net: Thatcher Demko for the Canucks and MacKenzie Blackwood for the Devils.
Demko continued a strong run of form in the game, allowing only one goal. He made history in the process, becoming the first goalie to allow a goal to 2019 number one overall draft pick Jack Hughes. Other than that tally, scored on the powerplay, Demko stopped all 23 other shots he faced, finishing with a .958 SV%.
Unfortunately, sometimes you’re outperformed even at your best. Blackwood didn’t bend, and he stopped all 25 Canucks shots, including nine on the power play, for his first shutout of the season.
The Devils now have back-to-back wins, their first two of the season, with Blackwood in net. The 22-year-old entered the season as the backup to Cory Schneider by necessity. Schneider’s terrible contract forced the Devils to give him the first opportunity. But he is struggling to stay healthy and struggling to perform. With their overhauled roster, it’s Blackwood’s job to lose now as long as they keep winning with him in the net.
Week in Review
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?
The hottest goaltender in the league by far is Carter Hutton. He posted back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 14 and 17 and is currently 5-0-0 with a .943 SV% and a 1.40 goals against average (GAA). After a shaky first season in Buffalo, Hutton is proving the Sabres faith in promoting him (through a free agent signing) from career backup to starter. Marc-Andre Fleury has also been strong with a shutout on Saturday, and Mikko Koskinen has looked good as well, rebounding from an up-and-down 2018-19 season.
On the other end of the spectrum, Braden Holtby has looked really rough this season, following up on a campaign that knocked him down in NHL goalie rankings. Meanwhile, backup and top prospect Ilya Samsonov has looked very strong. With Holtby a pending free agent, the Capitals will be forced to make some tough decisions before long, but the season, of course, is still very young.
Backup of the Week
There’s no question that this week’s “Backup of the Week” award should go to Demko. He is 2-1 with a .943 SV% in three starts replacing Jacob Markstrom during a leave of absence. He also kept the Canucks alive by blanking the Blues through six rounds of a shutout.
Markstrom is now back with the team, but head coach Travis Green may continue to play the hot hand until Demko cools down. In today’s NHL, having two capable goalies is never a bad problem, and the Canucks clearly have two great options in Markstrom and Demko.
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.