Breaking down each goalie controversy within the 24-team playoff event


The NHL season is tentatively anticipated to renew with a post-season event starting on the finish of July, with 24 groups collaborating, together with eight groups per convention in a play-in spherical and the highest 4 groups per convention in a round-robin.
Projecting how groups will look popping out of the 4.5-month layoff will get significantly fascinating when analyzing the goaltenders. Amazingly, of the 24 groups slated to compete, I depend 11 with unsettled starting-goalie roles. That’s 45.Eight %. A few of these platoon conditions have a 1A who holds an edge proper now, however the phase-Three coaching camps will decide the starters for a lot of groups. The competitors is large open and can form the post-season, which incorporates best-of-five sequence for the qualifying spherical.
Right here’s a take a look at the cloudy creases and who holds the sting in every battle for now.
Play-in Spherical
EDMONTON OILERS (5-West): Mikko Koskinen vs. Mike Smith
Smith began 37 video games to Koskinen’s 33 this season, however Koskinen did a lot better work along with his chunk of the pie. His .917 save share dwarfed Smith’s .902 mark. Koskinen’s grip on the beginning job tightened after the all-star break, when he held a .934 SP and appeared in 11 video games, whereas Smith solely improved to .905 in 13 appearances. Efficiency smart, Koskinen has been the far superior goalie. He received so much much less assist than Smith, too. Amongst 66 goalies who logged not less than 500 minutes at 5-on-5, Koskinen’s problem of shot high quality positioned him sixth in anticipated targets towards per 60, whereas Smith sat 48th. Koskinen graded out above common on the 12 months, rating 22nd in targets saved above common per 60, whereas Smith graded out as one of many league’s worst netminders, sitting 60th.
So why is that this even an issue? Koskinen has 0.Zero video games of NHL playoff expertise. Smith has 24, throughout which he’s been lights out. He’s 38 now, however even final 12 months, at 37, he was arguably the one purpose the Calgary Flames didn’t get swept. Amongst goalies with 20 or extra video games performed, his .938 profession post-season SP ranks first all-time. Is it doable the Oilers favor an skilled netminder to compete reverse the Chicago Blackhawks’ two-time Stanley Cup champ, Corey Crawford? Throughout Smith’s excellent 2011-12 playoff run with the Arizona Coyotes, his coach was Dave Tippett. Smith’s coach in Edmonton now: Dave Tippett.
The sting: Efficiency smart, Koskinen has greater than earned the primary likelihood, so he has the slight edge going into camp. If he struggles early towards Chicago, nevertheless, few starters can have shorter leashes given the backup’s degree of expertise.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (6-West): Juuse Saros vs. Pekka Rinne
Even peak Pekka Rinne was wobbly in Nashville’s crease at occasions within the playoffs. In 2017-18, his Vezina Trophy season, Rinne wound up pulled at house in Sport 7 towards the Winnipeg Jets. Two years later, with Rinne 37 years outdated, Saros appeared take over the beginning job for good heading into the March-12 season shutdown. Each goalies had struggled for a lot of the season. On the all-star break, Rinne and Saros held SPs of .899 and .895, respectively. However because the Preds began to seek out themselves after swapping out coach Peter Laviolette for John Hynes, Saros actually pulled away from Rinne. Publish-all-star-break, Saros went 11-4-Zero with a 2.14 goals-against common and .936 SP throughout 17 appearances. Rinne received worse: 2-4-1, 4.12 GAA, .884 SP. The crease battle gave the impression to be over. For the primary time in 89 video games, another person may begin a playoff contest for Nashville.
However as The Athletic’s Adam Vingan reported earlier this month, after the lengthy layoff, Hynes nonetheless sees the Preds’ beginning goalie gig as an open competitors.
The sting: If Saros doesn’t get the primary crack after being the No. 1 purpose Nashville clawed again into the playoff image, it’ll be a mini travesty. Sure, Rinne has all that playoff expertise, but it surely’s not all good playoff expertise, as Rinne additionally carries the historical past of post-season implosions. He holds an SP beneath .910 in 5 of his eight playoff years. Saros will get the No. 1 spot for now, but it surely’s open for Rinne to win it again throughout camp.
MINNESOTA WILD (10-West): Alex Stalock vs. Devan Dubnyk vs. Kaapo Kahkonen
On this case, playoff expertise is inversely proportional to every netminder’s effectiveness this season. Having turned 34 in Might, Dubnyk appeared to say no in 2019-20. He posted simply his worst numbers since his profession renaissance started with the assistance of Arizona Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke in 2014-15. Dubnyk’s 3.35 GAA and .890 SP each ranked second-last within the league behind Detroit’s Jimmy Howard amongst goalies who appeared in not less than 25 video games this 12 months, and Dubnyk ranked close to the underside of the league in GSAA/60. He misplaced the beginning job to Alex Stalock earlier than the March-12 shutdown. The explanation why Dubnyk isn’t dominated out of the competitors: his 26 profession playoff begins. Stalock, a profession backup, was a significant contributor to the Wild’s quiet surge up the Western Convention standings within the winter. He went 9-3-1 with a 2.22 GAA and .924 SP after the all-star break. On the 12 months, Stalock graded out as a barely above common goalie in GSAA/60, however from the all-star break on, he was eighth within the league amongst goalies with not less than 500 minutes performed at 5-on-5. He earned his No. 1 standing.
After which there’s the prospect Kahkonen, who received three of his 5 choices when he received some work in November and December and was phenomenal with AHL Iowa this season, going 25-6-Three with a 2.07 GAA and .927 SP. With the NHL permitting for expanded rosters this post-season, Kahkonen can be within the combine.
The sting: It’s Stalock’s to lose. He was simply Minnesota’s greatest netminder this season. He solely has 4 playoff video games and one begin to his identify, however he has a .931 SP throughout these 165 minutes, for what it’s price. That mentioned, it sounds just like the Wild are permitting for an open competitors in camp, as coach Dean Evason instructed The Star Tribune’s Sarah McLellan earlier this month.
ARIZONA COYOTES (11-West): Darcy Kuemper vs. Antti Raanta
The Coyotes don’t have any dangerous alternative right here. Kuemper and Raanta have been each glorious this season. Not solely did they each sit contained in the league’s high 25 in GSAA/60, however Arizona’s third choice, Adin Hill, ranked fourth amongst goalies with 500-plus minutes at 5-on-5 after doing exemplary work whereas Kuemper was damage. The Coyotes are loaded in internet.
The sting: Coach Rick Tocchet has choices, however Kuemper has a fairly decisive edge right here. Amongst goalies who performed 1,000-plus minutes at 5-on-5, he had the league’s fourth-best SP at .932, and he has functioned general because the 1A to Raanta’s 1B. Kuemper began the Coyotes’ closing three video games earlier than the March-12 shutdown. Raanta is sort of equally deserving of the No. 1 job, however Kuemper has been only a bit higher and was the presumed starter as of mid-March, so it’s his job for now.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (5-East): Matt Murray vs. Tristan Jarry
Murray has two Stanley Cup rings, so we’ve got to imagine he has a leg up on Jarry, however let’s keep in mind it was Jarry, not Murray, who earned an invitation to the 2020 All-Star Sport. Jarry was arguably the league’s greatest goalie from October via the tip of December. As of New 12 months’s Day, he was 13-5-Zero with a .938 save share. He led the league in 5-on-5 SP and 5-on-5 GSAA/60 on the time. Additionally, lest we overlook, these Penguins have been keen to provide a rookie Murray the online over Cup winner Fleury at varied junctures throughout their 2016 and 2017 Cup runs. Coach Mike Sullivan’s choices aren’t dominated by sentiment.
That mentioned, from Jan. 1 on, Jarry’s sport tanked. He graded out as one of many league’s worst goalies. Murray by no means actually righted the ship throughout a season during which he posted career-worst numbers, but when Jarry was struggling down the stretch anyway, does the tie go to the man with the rings?
The sting: Sullivan has not named a starter, so both man has the chance to grab the job in camp. If we’ve got to put bets now, although, Murray is the safer one. If we consider Jarry’s superb begin was an anomaly, isn’t it truthful to ask if Murray’s dangerous 12 months was an anomaly, too?
CAROLINA HURRICANES (6-East): Petr Mrazek vs. James Reimer
Mrazek performed the very best hockey of his profession through the stretch run final season and carried it into the beginning of the post-season earlier than an harm knocked him out of Sport 2 towards the New York Islanders. Mrazek didn’t return till Spherical 2 towards the Boston Bruins, and he struggled. He simply wasn’t the identical goaltender for a lot of this season and missed time with a concussion in February and March.
Reimer wasn’t a world beater, however he was decisively higher than Mrazek. Reimer’s consistency was key. He held an SP of not less than .912 in each month besides his injury-shortened February. He had the closest common purpose distance within the league, too. He led the league in medium-danger SP and ranked close to the highest in low-danger, however he had one of many worst high-danger SPs. In different phrases, it took high quality probabilities to beat him. He didn’t stand on his head, however he didn’t lose video games for Carolina.
The sting: Reimer’s final playoff look was 29 minutes of mop-up obligation for a pulled Martin Jones within the 2016-17 playoffs. Reimer’s final playoff begin was, uh, that sport: Maple Leafs, Bruins, Sport 7, 4-1 lead, third interval, 2013. Will the Canes thus give Mrazek the primary crack since he has extra – and fewer traumatic – post-season expertise? Perhaps, but it surely is likely to be a mistake. Reimer has earned the job over Mrazek based mostly on this season’s play.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (9-East): Elvis Merzlikins vs. Joonas Korpisalo
The Blue Jackets misplaced Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene and Sergei Bobrovsky to free company final summer season…and led the NHL in man video games misplaced by cumulative minutes this season…and nonetheless held down a playoff place when the league paused March 12. One essential purpose for that: very good goaltending from Merzlikins and Korpisalo, albeit each have been helped by sneaky-good protection. Each ranked close to the highest of the league in fewest high-danger photographs towards per 60 and lowest anticipated goals-against per 60.
Korpisalo stored Columbus afloat with stellar play in November and December. Come the brand new 12 months, Merzlikins grew to become one of many season’s most fascinating tales. Earlier than this season, he had no professional expertise at any degree greater than the Swiss NLA, and he misplaced his first eight choices throughout 10 appearances from the beginning of the season via Dec. 30. Then, beginning on New 12 months’s Eve, he started an unimaginable rookie run, posting a .935 SP the remainder of the season, together with an unbelievable eight-game profitable streak that included 5 shutouts.
The sting: Merzlikins was the larger story within the season’s second half, so he’s prone to get the primary crack at No. 1 obligation towards the Toronto Maple Leafs. He graded out as a top-six goalie within the NHL in GSAA/60 amongst those that performed not less than 1,00Zero minutes at 5-on-5. The Blue Jackets haven’t settled on a starter, however when coach John Tortorella spoke in regards to the resolution on a Columbus radio present not too long ago, he appeared to worth Merzlikins’ abroad big-game expertise a bit greater than Korpisalo’s longer North American observe report. Benefit: Merzlikins.
NEW YORK RANGERS (10-East): Igor Shesterkin vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Shesterkin vs. Lundqvist could possibly be the goaltending resolution to observe through the play-in spherical. Shesterkin, lengthy the Rangers’ high netminding prospect, was scintillating the second he stepped on the ice this season and had taken over the beginning job, leapfrogging Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev, when the NHL paused. Shesterkin missed time with a fractured rib and solely appeared in 12 video games, however he received 10 of them, posting a .932 SP. He did that regardless of going through essentially the most photographs towards per 60 minutes within the NHL amongst goalies with not less than 500 minutes performed at 5-on-5. The one goalie with the next anticipated targets towards per 60 based mostly on problem of workload was Lundqvist.
As for Hank…hey, it’s been a improbable run. He’s arguably the very best goalie of his era, a Vezina Trophy winner and five-time finalist, an Olympic gold medallist, sixth all-time in wins, 12th all-time in SP, a first-ballot Corridor of Famer. Lundqvist can also be 38 and posted profession worsts in most main stat classes this season. So why is he even within the combine? He owns the Rangers’ opponent, the Hurricanes. Lundqvist went 3-Zero with a .947 SP towards them this season. All-time, he’s 33-12-1 with a 2.00 GAA, .934 SP and two shutouts versus Carolina.
The sting: This one is a wash proper now. The good choice is Shesterkin. He’s the youthful, faster, higher goalie. However is there organizational stress to provide Lundqvist, one of many franchise’s all-time nice gamers, one final trip earlier than handing the keys over to Shesterkin in 2020-21? Shesterkin doubtless has the tiniest edge, but when he slips in any respect throughout camp, the ability of the Lundqvist narrative might take over.
COLORADO AVALANCHE (2-West): Philipp Grubauer vs. Pavel Francouz
Francouz had by no means began an NHL sport earlier than this season, however he emerged as an elite backup, filling in admirably throughout starter Grubauer’s harm absences, most notably when a lower-body harm shelved him from mid-February till the season pause in mid-March. In an 11-game stretch from Feb. 19 to March 11, Francouz went 8-2-1 with a .925 SP. Given Grubauer was solely a full-time starter for one 12 months heading into this one, it’s not like he has a vice grip on the No. 1 job. He didn’t play poorly this 12 months, however Francouz was higher.
The sting: Since Grubauer was having a superbly respectable season other than the accidents, holding a .916 SP and enjoying his greatest hockey of the 12 months in February, and since he was glorious within the 2019 playoffs, he ought to stay the starter. However he’ll have a faster hook than some No. 1s given the standard choice behind him. If the Avs begin the round-robin or Spherical of 16 slowly, coach Jared Bednar might flip to Francouz for a spark.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (3-West): Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Robin Lehner
Fleury leads all lively NHL goalies in post-season begins, wins and shutouts. Nobody can trump his expertise. Lehner, nevertheless, acquired on the 2020 commerce deadline, has been the higher goaltender for 2 years. As soon as he arrived, he began three video games, profitable all three, posting a .940 SP. Fleury began 4 video games over that point. So the break up was fairly even. Does that imply it’s an excellent race? Not essentially. Lehner was introduced in to lighten Fleury’s workload, not essentially to take his job.
The sting: Fleury will nonetheless get the primary look, however one benefit the round-robin squads have over the play-in groups is that they can provide each their goalies some motion in non-elimination video games. Which means Lehner nonetheless has the prospect to win the job for the Spherical of 16 if he outplays Fleury within the round-robin.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (3-East): Braden Holtby vs. Ilya Samsonov
Holtby’s UFA stroll 12 months was principally nightmarish. He managed only a .905 SP at even power. His 3.11 GAA and .897 SP have been profession worsts. In the meantime, sensational rookie Samsonov, Washington’s goalie of the long run, seemed stellar in begin after begin and was slowly wresting away a much bigger share of the pie. As of February, it appeared a foregone conclusion that Samsonov can be the undisputed No. 1 by playoff time and Holtby would trip off to a brand new group as a UFA. However Samsonov’s sport hit the skids in February and March, when he went 0-4-1 with an .869 SP. Usually, it’s forgivable for any goalie to have a blip like that through the season. However when it’s a rookie on a veteran Cup contender whose different goaltender is 2 years faraway from profitable all of it…do you begin to take into account giving Holtby the reins for the post-season?
The sting: We don’t have to take a position on this one. Coach Todd Reirden explicitly indicated a pair weeks again that Holtby will get the primary alternative. That may change, after all, if he struggles through the round-robin.
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Tags: lists, information, stanley cup playoffsConnect: In regards to the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the group since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair ideas. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Stay and The Hockey Information Podcast.

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