Today’s Starting Goalies – October 18

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.

Today’s schedule features a medium-sized five games, but they all start pretty early for once. For that reason, you need to make you goalie decisions pretty early today. Let’s get to it.

7:00 PM ET games

NY Islanders @ Toronto

Likely NY Islanders starter: Dwayne Roloson –As Katie Strang points out, Roloson put together a 58-save performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. Couple that with some effective starts so far this season and it’s easy to see why the Isles are likely to start Rolo. (Source: Katie Strang.)

Likely Toronto starter: J.S. Giguere – Giguere’s been very strong so far in his contract year. He very well might earn himself another nice deal, though teams would be wise to keep it short-term with the up-and-down netminder. (Source: Pension Plan Puppets.)

Ottawa @ Pittsburgh

Likely Ottawa starter: Brian Elliott – With Pascal Leclaire out for the near future, expect Elliott to get most of the starts in net for Ottawa. (Source: Silver Seven Sens.)

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Brent Johnson – After Johnson went 3-0 while Marc-Andre Fleury is 0-3, I openly wondered if there might a goalie controversy in Pittsburgh. Fleury should have the job in the long run, but there’s nothing wrong with riding the hot hand right now. (Source: Empty Netters.)

Colorado @ NY Rangers

Likely Colorado starter: Craig Anderson (Source: Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.)

Likely NY Rangers starter: Henrik Lundqvist – He hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, but the Rangers live and die by their Swedish star. (Source: Andrew Gross.)

7:30 PM ET game

Dallas @ Tampa Bay

Likely Dallas starter: Kari Lehtonen – He’s undefeated so far this season. Really, barring his perennial health problems, he should get a ton of starts for the Stars. He’ll get tested as the Lightning cannot be happy about their last performance. (Source: ESPN Dallas.)

Likely Tampa Bay starter: Mike Smith – Things didn’t go well for Dan Ellis in Tampa Bay’s last game, so it makes sense that Smith is the probable starter. It’s been more about the Lightning’s offense than their goaltending in their wins so far this season, so expect this goalie duo to rotate until somehow produces exemplary work. (Source: Raw Charge.)

8:30 PM ET game

Likely St. Louis starter: Jaroslav Halak – Ty Conklin played against Dallas, so chances are Halak will be back in net for the Blues tonight. (Source: Jeremy Rutherford.)

Likely Chicago starter: Marty Turco – Turco was strong in his first win of the season, so he deserves another shot at solidifying his top spot. (Source: Adam Jahns.)

What is Alex Galchenyuk’s future in Montreal?

Getty
1 Comment

Alex Galchenyuk is already a good player.

The question for the Montreal Canadiens is, can he be great?

Galchenyuk, the third overall draft pick in 2012, is coming off a decent regular season with 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games. However, it wasn’t as good as last year’s 30-goal campaign, and he didn’t score a single goal in the playoffs.

“Hopefully he took a step back this year so he can take two forward next year,” GM Marc Bergevin said Monday at the Canadiens’ season-ending press conference.

Three assists were all Galchenyuk could manage in six games against the Rangers. More importantly, after more than 300 NHL games of experience, the 23-year-old is still not an everyday center, on a team where center depth is by far the biggest concern.

Habs defenseman Shea Weber thinks Galchenyuk still has a ton of potential.

“I think we’ve seen glimpses of it,” Weber said, per NHL.com’s Arpon Basu, “but I don’t think he’s tapped into how good he can be. One day he’s going to realize it, like all young guys do, he’s going to get it.”

Of course, not all young guys do get it. And at times, there have been questions about Galchenyuk’s competitiveness.

To play center in the NHL, you have to compete all over the ice.

“Ideally, we would love to have him play center,” head coach Claude Julien said. “But I think he realizes the same thing we realize right now. As a centerman, it’s one of the toughest jobs there is because you have to be all over the ice, and you’ve got to be able to skate. As a centerman, you have to be good at both ends of the ice, and you have to be responsible. Right now, he’s not at that stage.”

The kicker in all this is that Galchenyuk can become a restricted free agent this summer. He’s already signed one bridge deal, and he’s at the age now where many young stars sign for big money and a long term.

So, does he want to sign long term in Montreal?

He ducked the question today.

“My season just ended a couple of days ago,” Galchenyuk told reporters. “I honestly didn’t give it too much of a thought yet.”

Kunitz cleared for contact, available for start of Caps series

Getty
1 Comment

The Pens may get back one of their most veteran skaters for their second-round series against Washington.

Chris Kunitz, who missed the last five regular season games and all of Pittsburgh’s Round 1 win over Columbus, has been cleared for contact (per the Tribune-Review) and could return from his lower-body ailment for Thursday’s opener at Verizon.

Kunitz, 37, finished the year with nine goals and 29 points in 71 games, averaging 15:31 TOI per night. It was a down season offensively, but the Pens are hopeful he can reclaim some of the form shown last spring, when he racked up 12 points in 24 games en route to the title.

A three-time Cup winner, Kunitz skated on the fourth line at today’s practice with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl.

In other health news, the Pens also declared d-man Chad Ruhwedel a game-time decision for Thursday, after he was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Carl Hagelin, out with a lower-body ailment, has continued skating and head coach Mike Sullivan said the team is hopeful Hagelin can play at some point against Washington.

DeBoer praises ‘courageous’ Thornton for playing with torn ACL, MCL (Updated)

Getty
3 Comments

In a fairly stunning admission on Monday, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters that Joe Thornton played in four of San Jose’s six playoff games versus Edmonton with a significant knee injury.

Thornton, who was hurt against Vancouver late in the regular season, suffered tears to both his left MCL and ACL.

“I’ve never seen a guy play with a torn MCL and ACL,” DeBoer said, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s a courageous effort as I’ve ever seen.”

Thornton, 37, missed the first two games of the series to rest his knee, before suiting up for the final four. He averaged 18:50 TOI per night and finished with a pair of assists, numbers that are pretty remarkable given the severity of his ailment.

Jumbo wasn’t the only unhealthy Shark during the first-round playoff ouster. Logan Couture‘s face/mouth injury was well-documented and, today, DeBoer also revealed that Tomas Hertl was playing with a broken foot, and Patrick Marleau with a broken thumb.

Looking ahead, Thornton’s knee injury might cloud what’s an already murky future. He’s a pending UFA, and there have been no clear signals from the organization on how they’ll address his potential return. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported in January the Thornton camp was looking for a three-year deal.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Sharks GM Doug Wilson has time on his side. It’s understood the club probably wouldn’t act on an extension for Thornton until after the June expansion draft, which could give the Sharks enough time to better gauge his health.

Update:

Per NBC Sports California, Wilson confirmed Thornton is undergoing surgery today to repair the ligaments.

 

 

Online bookmaker: Caps are Stanley Cup favorites

Getty
5 Comments

The Washington Capitals got a bit of a scare in the first round, but they’ll go into the second round as the Stanley Cup favorites.

Per online bookmaker Bovada, here is the full list of Stanley Cup odds for the eight remaining teams:

Washington Capitals   7/2
Pittsburgh Penguins    17/4
Anaheim Ducks             11/2
Edmonton Oilers          11/2
St. Louis Blues              13/2
Nashville Predators     7/1
New York Rangers       8/1
Ottawa Senators           10/1

The Chicago Blackhawks entered the postseason as 4/1 Cup favorites at Bovada. Of course, the ‘Hawks were then swept by the Preds, who’ve gone from 25/1 long shots to 7/1 heading into their series with the Blues.

The Caps’ odds actually dropped to 13/2 after they fell behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1. But three straight wins, two in overtime, clinched them a spot against the Penguins in the second round.

The Ottawa Senators are the long shots of the bunch now, despite having home-ice advantage over the Rangers in the second round.