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.