On the Hot Seat is a column which will run on Saturdays and will discuss the likely changes between the pipes at the moment. Think of this as a primer that will go over basically any starting goalie position that might be in jeopardy whatsoever.
In an era where most NHL starting goalies are slow starters, or mediocre, out of the gate, Brian Elliott lays it all on the line. A notoriously good first half player, Elliott’s best career months are October, November and January. This October his 1.67 GAA and .942 SV% vaulted him into a starting job, knocking incumbent starter Jaroslav Halak out of the crease.
Even though Elliott hardly beat youngster Ben Bishop for the backup job in the preseason, his calming presence between the pipes has given him an extended look in an every day role. In addition, he’s only the second goalie in St. Louis Blues history to win his first four starts — with Reinhardt Divis the only other, hat tip to Norm Sanders, via Twitter. Right now he remains the team’s starting goalie but his long-term value is questionable at best.
Halak’s best year came when he fought Carey Price for the number one role so a bounce back could be in order. Elliott’s tough-luck, 3-1 loss against Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames could be an indication he is slowing down. Then again, allowing only two goals isn’t really grounds for someone to lose their job; neither is losing four of your first five games. Expect this competition to continue for a bit longer.
Al Montoya vs. Rick DiPietro vs. Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni Nabokov is not expected to play tonight, out with the ‘Shark flu‘. In all seriousness, he appeared to have a hip or lower-body injury after 65 minutes against the Pittsburgh Penguins, making way for Rick DiPietro. The fact that DiPi starts tonight against the Penguins is indicative as to where Al Montoya sits on the team’s depth chart. After playing the team’s first four games to the tune of a modest 2-2-0 rec0rd, 2.01 GAA and .930 SV%, the Glenview, Illinois was quickly shuttled to the bench in favor of the veteran Nabokov.
Considering he started four straight, it certainly looked like the Isles were showcasing Nabokov — who sat out an entire season after the Isles claimed him off waivers. GM Garth Snow knows the former Calder Memorial Trophy winner should garner some interest on the trade market and posting solid peripherals to start the season — 1-2-0 record, 2.23 GAA and .927 SV% — is certainly good enough to get a few offers. Should Nabby get traded, look for the team to give DiPietro every opportunity to regain his job, resting him on back-to-back games with Montoya filling in.
Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Ilya Bryzgalov
Both goalies were just terrible in Thursday’s infamous 9-8 loss against the Winnipeg Jets. Ilya Bryzgalov will start tonight, which is a solid indication that he still holds the starting goalie position for the Flyers. Still, the younger Bobrovsky has outplayed Bryzgalov in facet possibly because he’s used to the media zoo in Philadelphia.
The team has currently won five of their 10 games and will continue experiencing growing pains as their newer personnel develop chemistry. Considering Bryzgalov signed such a costly deal, he should be given every opportunity to succeed in the City of Brotherly Love; if you drop Bryz, I would like to be in your fantasy hockey league next season. Nevertheless, young Bob earning two of the five victories is telling as to where he stands with coach Peter Laviolette. Expect him to continue to steal starts from his counterpart but remain the number two.
Jacob Markstrom vs. Jose Theodore
Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom may have run Scott Clemmensen out of a job. Through nine games, the Florida Panthers hold five wins thanks to an improved roster and timely goaltending. While most thought the Cats downgraded their starting goalie when they allowed Tomas Vokoun to walk, the current tandem holds a tidy 2.53 GAA and 92.4 SV% — an improvement over their 2.66 GAA and 91.5 SV% of last season.
Theodore last started on October 20th in the team’s 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres but figures to get a rematch tonight. Over the last nine days in between, Markstrom played all three contests, allowing seven goals. Coach Kevin Dineen allowed the youngster to stay in between the pipes because he was hot but also because Theo was sore. Otherwise, he expects to run his French Canadien netminder out there 50-55 time a season.
Dwayne Roloson vs. Mathieu Garon
Similar to Dineen, coach Guy Boucher prefers to keep the hot hand playing between the pipes. For four consecutive games he ran Mathieu Garon out there, allowing him to start for his Tampa Bay Lightning, as long as he produced some wins. On the fourth game, a 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators, Garon was not as sharp, surrendering five goals on only 17 shots. He eventually got the hook and in came hero Dwayne Roloson, the team’s premier starting goalie.
Roli would stop all 10 shots faced, which earned him the starting nod tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. He should turn in a solid effort against the Jets considering his 9-0-1-1 career record against them en route to reclaiming his job. If Roli can’t hold onto the job, it looks like GM Steve Yzerman will explore trade options before resting his season’s hopes on Garon — a player who has not held a starting role since 2007-2008.
Cory Schneider vs. Roberto Luongo
Is there anyone unfamiliar with this goalie controversy? Roberto Luongo always stinks in October; Cory Schneider has been better this season. If you own one, I suggest you buy the other, and vice versa. Check the starting goalies section on a nightly basis to find out which of these guys play in nets.
We hope you enjoyed our segment on starting goalies and fending off their backups as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions such as the awesomeness of Ty Conklin or your love affair for Andrew Raycroft, let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time.