Today's starting goalies – October 8

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Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

12:00 PM ET game

Minnesota “at” Carolina

Likely Minnesota starter: Niklas Backstrom – While it’s a bit surprising that both goalies will play back-to-back games in Finland, it appears that will be the case today. (Source: Michael Russo.)

Likely Carolina starter: Cam Ward – Again, it’s a little unexpected (at least in my eyes) that both workhorse goalies will start again today, but I haven’t stumbled across anything that would indicate otherwise. I’ll keep an eye out for any late developments but it appears that this will be the case.

3:00 PM ET game

San Jose “at” Columbus

Likely San Jose starter: Antti Niemi – While he might share starts with his fellow Finn addition Antero Niittymaki, my guess is Niemi will get first dibs on the starting roll. It’s wise to “hand cuff” the two goalies by drafting/acquiring them both, if you can, though. (The Sharks Twitter feed confirmed Niemi will start this afternoon.)

Likely Columbus starter: Steve Mason – For better or worse, the Blue Jackets are putting all their eggs in the “Mason will snap out of it” basket. My money’s on “worse” but I hope I’m wrong. (The Columbus Post-Dispatch confirms the fact that Steve Mason will start for CBJ.)

7:00 PM ET games

Dallas at New Jersey

Likely Dallas starter – Kari Lehtonen – Lehtonen should receive the vast majority of the team’s starts … until his inevitable string of injuries, of course. I hate to be so sardonic toward a goalie whose skills are intriguing, but he’s basically the Marian Gaborik of goalies. (Source: Mark Stepneski of ESPN Dallas.)

Likely New Jersey starter – Martin Brodeur – No one logs minutes (nay, hours) quite like Devils work horse goalie Brodeur. The excitement over adding average backup Johan Hedberg was kind of amusing; expect Brodeur to flirt with 70 games played like usual as long as he stays healthy this season. (Source: Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice.)

7:30 PM ET games

Washington at Atlanta

Likely Washington starter – Michal Neuvirth –  While we recently reported that Semyon Varlamov is on the verge of returning from the IR, Neuvirth might take every start until his tandem partner returns. Could he make enough of an impression to move from “1b” to “1a”? (Source: Washington Post.)

Likely Atlanta starter – Ondrej Pavelec – This is probably the closest thing to an “upset” so far, as I thought the Thrashers intended to add Chris Mason as a transitional starter while Pavelec gained seasoning. It might be a neck-and-neck race, but apparently Pavelec will get the first shot. (Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Pavelec would start.)

Anaheim at Detroit

Likely Anaheim starter – Jonas Hiller – After years of tight goalie battles (Hiller vs. J.S. Giguere, Giguere vs. Ilya Bryzgalov), this time around the Ducks have an obvious No. 1 and a weak No. 2. Hiller won’t be on easy street though, as that Anaheim defense is going to keep him very, very busy this season. (Source: OC Register.)

Likely Detroit starter – Jimmy Howard – The Red Wings have two reasonably capable goalies in Howard and Cup winner Chris Osgood, both of whom are in contract years. Howard played well last season so the job is his to lose, but he doesn’t have a ton of breathing room. (Source: Ansar Khan.)

Buffalo at Ottawa

Likely Buffalo starter – Ryan Miller – Miller is a no-brainer starter almost every night, unless you’re a member of Patrick Lalime’s family. (Source: Buffalo News.)

Likely Ottawa starter – Pascal Leclaire – I wonder if the Senators are going with “ceiling” over “actual results” here. Brian Elliott is the Jeff Garcia or Trent Dilfer of goalies; he won’t do anything sexy and won’t win many games by himself, but he’s awfully steady. Leclaire has been a flat-out mess the last two seasons, vacillating between being injured and being abysmal, but he’s been given a chance to earn his big contract this season. (Source: Senators Extra.)

Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”