Today's starting goalies – October 8

1 Comment

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.)

Video: Gaudreau, Ryan, Orlov star in Goals of the Week

Leave a comment

Three stellar individual efforts in our latest offering.

First up, it’s red-hot Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, with his third-period goal in an eventual OT loss to Detroit. Ryan now has 20 points in 21 games this season, and six in his last five.

Next, it’s Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, who walked off what was arguably the Flames’ best win of the year — a 2-1 OT victory over the defending champion Blackhawks.

Finally, it’s Caps blueliner Dmitry Orlov, with one of the weirdest-looking goals in recent memory.

From the Washington Post:

“No one knew where the puck was,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said.

“Houdini,” goaltender Braden Holtby said.

“I had no clue,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought it was in the stands. I had no idea.”

The goal was also Orlov’s second of the season, meaning he’s just one shy of matching his career best.

After 20-game absence, Elias to make season debut for Devils

Patrik Elias
Leave a comment

It took a while, but Patrik Elias‘ campaign is ready to get underway.

Elias, who’s yet to play this year because of a knee injury, says he’ll be in the New Jersey lineup tonight when the Devils host the Blue Jackets at Prudential (per The Record).

The 39-year-old’s presence should provide an emotional lift in front of the home crowd.

A lifelong Devil — only Ken Daneyko and Martin Brodeur have appeared in more games — fans may be witnessing Elias’ last year in uniform. It’s fair to suggest he could be on the verge of retirement, given he’s in the last of a three-year, $16.5 million deal and will turn 40 in April.

As for tonight, it’s not yet official who Elias will play with — or how much he’ll play. He did take line rushes with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Matteau at Tuesday’s practice.

After three-game absence, Johnson back for Bolts this week

Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
Leave a comment

The Lightning have a busy stretch of the schedule coming up, with three games in the next four nights.

And it sounds like they’ll get a big lineup reinforcement to help them through it.

Per LA Kings Insider — the Kings are in Tampa tonight — Bolts head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Tyler Johnson will be back in the lineup “at some point” this week, after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury.

Johnson has been out of the lineup since taking a Dave Bolland hit on Nov. 14. The timing of the injury was lousy, especially since Johnson looked to be rounding into form — after a rough October in which he failed to score a goal and had just five points in 12 games, Johnson was playing well in November, with three goals and five points in his first six games.

There’s no denying the Bolts could use Johnson back in the mix.

The club has been ravaged by injury lately and is currently without the services of Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and Cedric Paquette at forward.

The injuries are a big reason why Tampa is off to a mediocre 10-9-3 start. That said, the team has looked good in each of its last two games — a 2-1 win over the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, followed by a 5-0 blowout of the Ducks on Saturday.

As for when Johnson might get back in? The Bolts play tonight at home against L.A., on Friday in Washington, then back at home on Saturday against the Islanders.

Will the Bruins re-sign Loui Eriksson?

1 Comment

Loui Eriksson, one of the key pieces Boston acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade, is in the last of his six-year, $25.5 million deal and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

And, at least for now, there doesn’t appear to be much certainty about his future as a Bruin.

“I’ll never, ever comment publicly in regard to individual players and negotiations and such,” B’s GM Don Sweeney told the Boston Herald this week. “Whether (comments) come out from the other side or wherever, they’re not going to come from me.

“He’s a big part of our team and he’s off to a really good start.”

Eriksson is certainly off to a good start — nine goals and 18 points in 20 games, his highest points-per-game average (.90) since coming to Boston, and the second-highest of his career.

He’s also playing nearly 20 minutes per night, enjoying great chemistry playing alongside David Krejci and, after an injury-riddled first year as a Bruin followed by last year’s playoff miss, seems to have really found his groove.

So why the silence on the extension front?

Two weeks ago, Eriksson told the Globe his agent, J.P. Barry, hasn’t had any discussions with Sweeney about re-signing in Boston.

“There’s not much you can really do about it now,” the 30-year-old Swede explained. “I’m trying to focus on playing good and trying to help this team as much as possible. Then we’ll see what happens after this year.”

Obviously, money is a factor.

Looking ahead, Boston’s current cap crunch doesn’t project to get much lighter. The club already has $61 million in salary committed for next season (per War On Ice), and Sweeney has to be mindful of other important contracts on the horizon.

Torey Krug is a restricted free agent at year’s end, and in line for a raise on the $3.4 million he made this season. Brad Marchand will be a UFA following the ’16-17 campaign.

And you’d think Sweeney would want to keep money free to eventually sort out Boston’s defense. The blueline has been an issue this season; it’s also getting old and will likely need an injection of new blood in the near future.

There’s also the question if, should he head to free agency, Eriksson couldn’t be replaced internally. The B’s are flush with young wingers — Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, Seth Griffith, David Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano and Alexander Khokhlachev are all 26 or under — which could make Eriksson expendable.