Steve Mason

Which NHL teams should be worrying the most about goaltending?

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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.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: