According to various sources, Buffalo Sabres goalie Patrick Lalime is primed to retire after playing 444 regular season games and earning 200 wins. Lalime also had 21 wins in 41 career playoff contests, making for a solid career considering the fact that he was a sixth round pick (156th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
Lalime began his career on fire. He set an NHL record with a 16-game unbeaten streak, going 14-0-2 to begin his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1996-97 season. That run helped him earn the top goalie spot on the All-Rookie team. Things went south for him after that, though, as he finished that season with a 21-12-2 record and was unable to earn NHL-level playing time with either the Penguins or Anaheim Ducks.
It wasn’t until he became a member of the Ottawa Senators in 1999-2000 that his career blossomed once again. Lalime went 146-100-30 and appeared in 283 regular games during that five-year span with the Senators, certainly marking the high point of his career. He became an All-Star in 2002-03 and earned 39 wins that season, the second most in the NHL.
Things fell apart once he left Ottawa, though. He had a lousy season with the St. Louis Blues, struggled but at least sustained his career during a couple seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and then finished his career with three seasons with the Sabres. The 2010-11 season gave obvious evidence to his waning relevance as an NHL backup; he went 0-5-0 in seven games played and gave way to Jhonas Enroth when the team was charging toward a playoff berth despite an injury to Ryan Miller. To many, he was basically a glorified goalie coach during the second half of the season.
Some might look at his playoff days with Ottawa as a set of letdowns (especially those who watch Jeff Friesen’s big goal against him during the 2003 Eastern Conference finals in an endless loop), but his overall postseason numbers are fantastic. His 21-20 record doesn’t do his individual output justice; his .926 save percentage and 1.77 GAA are absolutely sparkling.
If those reports of his retirement are indeed true – and it would be surprising to see him in the NHL again – then he should be remembered as an overachiever who helped Ottawa become a contender. He was one of the most well-liked goalies of his time, so chances are, if he wants to stay in the game in some capacity (as a coach or commentator) then he’ll probably find a place. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up being better than anyone expected in that role, either; overachieving seems to be what Lalime is best at.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.