Mike Condon

Getty

Goalie nods: Vezina candidates clash as Bobrovsky faces Holtby

1 Comment

Sergei Bobrovsky leads the NHL in GAA, at 2.04. Braden Holtby sits second, at 2.05.

Bobrovsky leads the NHL in wins, with 39. Holtby sits second, with 37.

Holtby leads the NHL in shutouts, with eight. Bobrovsky sits third, with six.

Perhaps you see where this is going.

Tonight, the two will square off in a much-anticipated game, as the Jackets travel to Washington to take on the Caps.

“It’s a great opponent,” Bobrovsky said, per NHL.com. “It’s going to be interesting. It’s one of the best teams in the League, so we’ll see. We’ll see who’s going to be better.”

Holtby is the reigning Vezina winner, while Bobrovsky captured the trophy three years prior. Both have already been unofficially shortlisted for this season’s award — along with Devan Dubnyk and, perhaps, Cam Talbot — but tonight’s game is about much, much more than goaltending.

The Caps head into the tilt two points up on Columbus for first spot in the NHL (and just one up on Pittsburgh). Columbus has made it clear it would love to capture the first Preisdents’ Trophy in franchise history, and a victory tonight would be a big step towards it. The Jackets, Penguins and Capitals all have 10 games left in their respective seasons, and Columbus will have one more shot at each this year.

Elsewhere…

— The Bolts begin a back-to-back set tonight, and will start Peter Budaj against the Bruins. Tuukka Rask will likely be in for the B’s, after allowing three goals on just 22 shots in a loss to Ottawa on Tuesday.

Keith Kinkaid, who’s seen more playing time that usual down the stretch, will get another start when the Devils take on the Leafs in New Jersey. Curtis McElhinney goes for the Leafs, after Frederik Andersen beat Columbus last night.

— It’s Matt Murray versus Mike Condon as the Penguins take on the Sens.

Eddie Lack, who’s played very well since being verbally lambasted by head coach Bill Peters, looks to start when the ‘Canes take on the Habs in Montreal. Carey Price will be in goal for the Canadiens.

— After Reto Berra’s first start in over a year on Tuesday, the Panthers will go back to James Reimer against Arizona. The visiting Coyotes will start Mike Smith.

Ryan Miller goes up against his old Blues teammates as the Canucks visit St. Louis. Jake Allen, who continues to be one of the better comeback stories this season, looks for his seventh win in his last eight starts.

Chad Johnson gives Brian Elliott a night off as Calgary takes on Nashville. Looks as though the Preds are going back to Pekka Rinne, after he earned his third straight win over the Coyotes on Monday.

— It’s Steve Mason versus Devan Dubnyk as Philly travels to Minnesota.

Corey Crawford will look to bounce back after allowing four goals on 10 shots (and getting hooked) against Vancouver on Tuesday. The visiting Stars look like they’ll go with Kari Lehtonen.

— Some thought Cam Talbot, the NHL’s leader in starts, would get a rest tonight in Colorado after getting hooked against Anaheim last night. Nope. Talbot’s back in, going up against Jeremy Smith for the Avs.

— In the late game, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck gets back in goal after Michael Hutchinson scored a rare win on Tuesday. He’ll be in against Ben Bishop, who looks to keep the Kings’ faint playoff hopes alive.

Goalie nods: Craig Anderson gets the start again for Senators

Getty

After returning to the lineup on Saturday night in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Craig Anderson gets another shot at them on Sunday night when the two teams wrap up their massive home-and-home weekend set of games with first place on the line in the Atlantic Division.

Anderson had been recently sidelined with a lower body injury but returned on Saturday night to stop 29 out of 32 shots to at least help the Senators pick up a point as they try to overtake the Canadiens for the top spot in the division.

Saturday’s game snapped what had been a personal six-game winning streak for Anderson, but even with the shootout loss he is still 8-1-1 in his past 10 starts since the middle of February, a stretch that has seen him record a .936 save percentage.

Overall this season Anderson has been great for the Senators, entering the day with one of the best save percentages in the league this season.

The team’s goaltending, both from him and the fantastic job that Mike Condon has done filling in this season as a backup, has been a big part of their story as they try to win their first division title since the 2005-06 season.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien also confirmed Carey Price will make the start again. He stopped 28 of 31 shots on Saturday night in the win.

Elsewhere on Sunday…

— In the afternoon games it was Marc-Andre Fleury vs. James Reimer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, while Sergei Bobrovsky went against Cory Schneider in the Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New Jersey Devils game.

— It will be Devan Dubnyk going for the Minnesota Wild as they try to break out of their recent slump against the Winnipeg Jets. Connor Hellebuyck gets the start for the Jets.

— The Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche have not announced their starters for their game.

Steve Mason gets the call for the Philadelphia Flyers when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. No official word yet from the Hurricanes but look for Cam Ward to get the start.

Brian Elliott looks to win his 11th consecutive start for the Calgary Flames when he starts on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings. He is 15-1-1 in his past 17 starts. The Kings have not announced their starting goalie.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk tries to get Wild back on track

Getty
1 Comment

The Minnesota Wild have been able to count on Devan Dubnyk all season long, almost like clockwork.

Yet, with some tough times lately and the Chicago Blackhawks’ blistering pace, the Wild find themselves trailing in the Central Division. It seems crass to “expect” Vezina-type performances, but considering what Minnesota is up against, they might need that level of work from Dubnyk to regain the Central lead.

One would expect Dubnyk to face Antti Raanta and the New York Rangers tonight.

Note: this post comes early in the day, so there may be an update later this afternoon. (? – means an educated guess that’s a little shakier than “probably.”)

Elsewhere …

Avalanche: Calvin Pickard vs. Red Wings: Jimmy Howard
Blue Jackets: Joonas Korpisalo vs. Islanders: Thomas Greiss
Canadiens: Carey Price vs. Senators Mike Condon (?)
Capitals: Braden Holtby (?) vs. Lightning: Andrei Vasilevskiy (?)
Blackhawks: Corey Crawford vs. Leafs: Frederik Andersen
Predators: Probably Juuse Saros vs. Hurricanes: Eddie Lack
Blues: Jake Allen (?) vs. Coyotes: Mike Smith (?)
Canucks: Richard Bachman vs. Oilers: Cam Talbot
Ducks: Jonathan Bernier (?) vs. Martin Jones

Goalie nods: Aaron Dell goes again as Sharks give Jones some rest

Getty

At this point in the regular season there really is not much mystery as to where the San Jose Sharks are going to end up in the standings.

They know they are going to the playoffs, and barring what would have to be a pretty significant collapse down the stretch, are more than likely going to win the Pacific Division crown. Their priority now is to simply stay healthy to be ready for the start of the postseason so they can make another run at the Stanley Cup.

Part of that is a desire to make sure starting goalie Martin Jones gets enough rest down the stretch, similar to the way he did a season ago when James Reimer started eight of the team’s final 20 regular season games.

Backup Aaron Dell has already started three of the Sharks’ first seven games this month, and he is going to get another one on Thursday night when the team hosts the St. Louis Blues.

Dell has been magnificent in his backup role this season and carries a .938 save percentage on the season into Thursday’s game. The Sharks are also riding a five-game point streak with him in the lineup (4-0-1) with Dell recording at least .939 save percentage in each game during that stretch, never allowing more than two goals in any of those games. He has allowed more than two goals just three of his 15 appearances this season and never more than three.

The Blues, entering the game having won five of their past six, have not announced their starter. Jake Allen played on Wednesday night in their loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Elsewhere on Thursday night…

Cory Schneider gets the night off for the New Jersey Devils when Keith Kinkaid gets the start against the Philadelphia Flyers. No official word yet from the Flyers, but Steve Mason just recorded a shutout on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thomas Greiss had a nice bounce back game for the New York Islanders on Tuesday, stopping 30 of 32 shots, and gets the call again on Thursday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets will counter with Connor Hellebuyck.

Pekka Rinne looks to break out of his recent funk on Thursday night when he goes against the Washington Capitals. Rinne has given up at least three goals in nine of his past 11 starts, including six starts where he has given up four goals. Braden Holtby goes for the Capitals.

Eddie Lack is back in net for the Carolina Hurricanes when they host the Minnesota Wild. It is expected that Devan Dubnyk will get the night off for the Wild, which means Darcy Kuemper would be in net.

— With Roberto Luongo still sidelined, James Reimer starts for the Florida Panthers as they try to cling to whatever remains of their playoff hopes against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have yet to announce their starter.

— It will be Frederik Andersen vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy in a massive game in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Craig Anderson remains sidelined with a lower body injury so Mike Condon goes for the Ottawa Senators when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. No word yet from the Blackhawks.

Tuukka Rask is net for the Boston Bruins as they try to complete the Alberta sweep when they visit the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers will start Cam Talbot, because they always start Cam Talbot.

Kari Lehtonen tries to stop the bleeding for the Stars defense when they visit Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks.

— After recording a shutout in his previous start Mike Smith returns to the Arizona Coyotes net on Thursday when they host the Detroit Red Wings. No word yet from the Red Wings on their starter.

Jonathan Quick starts for the Kings as they try to get closer to a playoff spot against the Buffalo Sabres. Robin Lehner goes for the Sabres.

Goalie nods: With Anderson hurt, Condon ready for ‘big challenge’ against streaking Bolts

Getty
1 Comment

The Sens lost co-leading goalscorer Mark Stone to an injury yesterday and, today, lost their No. 1 netminder to one as well.

Craig Anderson, like Stone, has suffered a lower-body ailment, one that will shelf him for tonight’s all-important tilt against the Lightning. That means Mike Condon will go for the Sens — who are looking for their seventh win in a row — against a streaking Tampa Bay club that’s 11-2-3 over its last 16 games.

“This is the job here,” Condon said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “You’ve got to be prepared for moments like this and I’m excited about a big challenge.”

Condon’s been used sparingly in March, with just one start — an OT win over Arizona in which he played very well, making 39 saves. Part of his limited action was because Ottawa wanted to get Anderson caught up after missing extensive time to be with his wife, Nicholle, while she underwent cancer treatment.

Anderson responded well to the heavy workload, going 5-0-0 this month with a .931 save percentage. It’s unclear exactly what his injury issue is, or how long it’ll sideline him for.

As for the Bolts, they know tonight’s game is massive. With a win and regulation losses from the Leafs and Islanders, they can move into sole possession of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Fittingly, they’ll be going with the red-hot Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Terrific matchup in Washington between last year’s Vezina winner, and the favorite for this year: Braden Holtby for the Caps, and Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.

— The ‘Canes and Isles meet for the second time in as many nights, following last night’s wild 8-4 Carolina victory. That game was a nightmare for all goalies involved, and neither team has named a starter for this evening.

Corey Crawford, fresh off a 42-save win over Minnesota on Sunday, goes for the ‘Hawks in Montreal. He’ll be up against his Team Canada teammate at the World Cup, as Carey Price goes for the Habs.

James Reimer gets to face his old team tonight, as the Panthers host the Leafs. Frederik Andersen, who’s won three straight, goes for Toronto.

— Surprise! Cam Talbot is starting for the Oilers again. He’ll be up against Antti Niemi, who gets the call for Dallas after replacing Kari Lehtonen in Sunday’s blowout loss to San Jose.

Mike Smith gets a night off after setting the Coyotes’ franchise shutout record on Monday, meaning Louis Domingue goes in L.A. No word yet on a Kings starter, but Jonathan Quick played last night against St. Louis. So it could be Ben Bishop this evening.

— The Sabres will go with Robin Lehner after he backstopped them to a comeback win over Columbus on Saturday. The host Sharks will start Martin Jones.