Steve Mason

Which NHL teams should be worrying the most about goaltending?


There’s always a good collection of struggling goalies to start an NHL season. Check that: there’s always a good collection of struggling goalies during any part of the NHL season. It’s just more noticeable in October because October’s stats are the only ones on the book.

That’s not to say every goalie that’s playing poorly now will bounce back, but we should probably give the benefit of doubt to the following two players:

Roberto Luongo (3.17 GAA, .877 SV%) – Typically struggles early in the season. His save percentage last October was .906, the year before it was .902, and the year before that it was 902. I’m not sure why Luongo’s been so mediocre in October, but his only good October with the Canucks was 2006-07, his first with the club. So no worries now. Not for the regular season at least.

Carey Price (3.13 GAA, .878 SV%) – Let’s see how he does once the Canadiens have a healthy defense. So far this season, Jacques Martin has been forced to skate the wheels off PK Subban (who’s been awful), with the likes of Yannick Weber and NHL newbies Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz seeing significant minutes as well.

While we won’t write off Luongo and Price quite yet, the following two guys are a slight worry:

Jaroslav Halak (3.47 GAA, .835 SV%) – No offense to back-up Brian Elliott, who’s played extremely well in relief, but the Blues need Halak to figure things out if they want to get back to the playoffs. Unlike Montreal, St. Louis hasn’t had a ton of injuries on the back end to use an excuse. Carlo Colaiacovo has missed time and Nikita Nikitin has been forced to play more than he should, but that’s not enough to let Halak off the hook. There’s also the fact Halak hasn’t just been bad, he’s been downright dreadful.

Ilya Bryzgalov (2.85 GAA, .895 SV%) – We all know how much the Flyers have invested in Bryzgalov. He started out well with his new team, but hasn’t been good his last two games. Philadelphia can score enough goals to mitigate a spell of poor goaltending, but Bryzgalov isn’t playing behind Dave Tippett’s system anymore, and there are more than enough people who will be happy to point that out.

Finally, these two goalies are an enormous concern:

Steve Mason (3.53 GAA, .878 SV%) – Scott Howson’s failure to properly address the goaltending situation in Columbus might ultimately be his downfall. The general manager that went on an offseason spending spree knew Mason hadn’t played well since his rookie season, yet he still rolled the dice. If the Jackets don’t find a legitimate starting goalie soon, they’ll be done by Christmas, and so might Howson.

Dwayne Roloson (5.11 GAA, .858 SV%) – He’s 42. That’s old. It’s really as simple as that. Mathieu Garon has been outstanding in relief of Roloson, but if the Lightning want to make another deep run in the playoffs, GM Steve Yzerman may want to make a move.

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher
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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.

A month to remember: Duchene lighting it up in November

Matt Duchene, Nick Holden
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It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.

When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.

Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.

Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.

The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.

Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.

“Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”

PHT Morning Skate: A bride can have her burger and eat it too

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)

Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (

Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:

Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)

Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)

Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

Claude Julien

We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s time for both sides to move on.