Our daily look into the world of goaltending will spend more time down in the American Hockey League today, with just two games in the National Hockey League last night.
Binnington Has a Successful Homecoming
This time last season, not many people were aware of who Jordan Binnington was. He didn’t even start the 2018-19 season as the number goaltender with the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. Of course, we all know that when he was recalled by the St. Louis Blues, he led the team on a run from last place in the Western Conference in January to the Stanley Cup in June.
The Richmond Hill, Ontario native made his first-ever start in Toronto against his hometown Maple Leafs on Monday night. He made 32 saves, in a 3-2 victory, to lead the Blues to their seventh straight win over the Maple Leafs.
“Lights out,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, who had the game-winning goal, said of Binnington’s performance. “Lot of pressure coming home, right? You guys (the media) have written about 50 stories on him about ice in his veins. Nothing seems to bother him, and tonight is no different.”
Binnington became the fourth Ontario-born goaltender, since 2009, to win his first game in Toronto joining Carter Hutton, Cam Talbot and Justin Peters.
Kings’ Future Between the Pipes in Good Hands
The Los Angeles Kings seem to be light years away from when they won two Stanley Cups in three years. While some of the players who helped them win those championships are still on the Kings, including goaltender Jonathan Quick, the team has their eyes of the future.
When the team is ready to move on from Quick, they appear to have their goaltender of the future in Cal Petersen. His numbers with the Ontario Reign, in the AHL, were not that impressive last season with a 4.02 goals-against average (GAA) and .896 save percentage (save %) in 38 games. However, when he got to play 11 games behind an NHL defense with the Kings last season, he posted a 2.60 GAA and .924 save %.
Petersen had a fantastic opening weekend for the Reign and was rewarded by being named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Monday. He began his season with a 41-save shutout of the San Jose Barracuda on Friday night. He was right back in the crease on Saturday night at the Bakersfield Condors and stopped 42 shots in a 3-2 overtime victory.
The 24-year-old netminder has started his third professional season with a 0.96 GAA and .976 save %. Last season, he faced a league-high 38.8 shots per 60 minutes and, at least through two games, that trend has not improved this season.
Leighton Calls it a Career
When you look up the term “journeyman goaltender” in the dictionary it will tell you to “see Michael Leighton.” The veteran backstop played 18 seasons of professional hockey and he officially announced his retirement on Monday.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Leighton made his NHL debut during the 2002-03 season. He ended up playing in 110 total NHL games with the Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes.
It was his second go-round with the Flyers that he is most remembered for. He started 13 playoff games during the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, posting a 2.46 GAA and a .916 save % while picking up three shutouts along the way.
While his NHL success was minimal, Leighton will go down as one of the greatest goaltenders in AHL history. He played parts of 15 seasons in the AHL with 13 different teams including a handful that no longer exist.
His name is scattered all over the AHL record book. The five-time All-Star played in 507 regular-season games, the seventh-most in league history. His 50 career shutouts are the most in AHL history and his 250 wins are good for the fifth-most. He was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2001-02 with the Norfolk Admirals. He also won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the league’s most outstanding goaltender in 2007-08 with the Albany River Rats.
Leighton excelled in the postseason as well. He owns the league record for the most saves in a single Calder Cup playoff game when he made 98 in a five-overtime loss in 2008. His 1.18 GAA that postseason with the River Rats remains the lowest for a single postseason in AHL history.
A fellow recently retired journeyman goaltender, Mike McKenna, wished his buddy well upon hearing the news of Leighton’s retirement.