Jimmy Howard: NHL's most consistent goalie?


Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Hockey goalies often are stereotyped as being, um, neurotic but Hockey or Die’s Jonathan Willis put together an interesting list of this season’s five most consistent goalies in the NHL and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard came out on top.

Of course, before we go further, it’s probably relevant to discuss exactly what is meant by “consistency.” Willis points to a great Battle of Alberta post that focuses on the fact that a lot of times when a sports writer states that “(blank player/team) needs to become more consistent” the writer really wants to say that they needs to be better. 

When it comes down to it, being consistent and being great – while not mutually exclusive – can often be wildly different expectations. A great goalie might have some serious peaks and valleys, then again, an average goalie can be quite valuable if his performance is steady.

The funny thing about this list (being that it’s about consistency) is that it seems like a collage of the year’s most surprising goalies. Craig Anderson hasn’t just been outstanding this season, he’s been reliably outstanding. After bouncing back and forth from Detroit’s farm system, Howard has been a rock for the Red Wings. Tuukka Rask is producing similar results in Boston.
The two most interesting names are the last ones on the list: Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Unlike the top three, Price and Quick do not have elite-level save percentages, yet they’re both in considerably different situations. Price came into the league with Chosen One type pressure and to the naked eye seems like a disappointment. On the other hand, Quick isn’t even the most renowned goalie named Jonathan in the Kings system, yet he’s sporting a Brodeurian workload.
Price is in a “1A, 1B” situation (at best) in Montreal because of the often great goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, but his numbers have been comparable to Quick’s this season. The difference is that Quick is the most stable, mature goalie the Kings have now (though that could change later with the maturation of their other prospects). Is Quick a demonstrably great goalie? No, but there could be legitimate value in knowing what you’re going to get from a goalie.
Now, if Willis can find a team that has the best cross-section between goalie consistency and  shots allowed, then he’ll really be on to something.

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    Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

    Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

    DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

    Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

    Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

    Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

    Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

    Fleury had 21 saves.

    The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

    Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

    The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

    Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

    The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

    Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

    NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

    Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

    Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

    Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

    McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

    Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

    Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

    Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

    Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

    NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.