We all know that Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, and Devan Dubnyk have been near unbeatable to start the season, but here are five netminders off to surprisingly* tough starts:
John Gibson — The Ducks, as a team, have failed to impress under new coach Randy Carlyle. At the same time, Gibson (6-6-3, .908) has been outplayed by his backup, Jonathan Bernier (3-1-1, .935). Gibson is still young, just 23 years old, but the Ducks saw enough from him last season to trade Frederik Andersen to Toronto. So far, Gibson just hasn’t found his groove. Twice this month he’s been pulled and replaced by Bernier. That will need to change if the Ducks are going to compete for a Stanley Cup. The plan was for Gibson to be their man.
Steve Mason — For the record, he was great last night, stopping 38 of 39 shots in a 3-1 victory over Florida. But the Flyers have to hope that’s a sign of things to come, because this season’s Mason (5-6-3, .895) has been far inferior to last season’s Mason (23-19-10, .918). With Michal Neuvirth out injured (after struggling even worse than Mason), the Flyers have recalled Anthony Stolarz from the AHL. No word yet who will start tonight in Tampa Bay, but expect to see Stolarz at some point soon, unless Mason keeps last night’s momentum going in a big way.
Petr Mrazek — Last year, he was arguably the Red Wings’ MVP, going 27-16-6 with a .921 save percentage. This season, he’s sunk to 4-5-1 with a .901 save rate, while veteran Jimmy Howard has outright stolen a few games for the Wings. Howard’s record may be a modest 4-5-0, but his save percentage is .940 and Detroit has been shut out in three of his losses. Mrazek, meanwhile, has had much better run support. In four of his losses, including one in overtime, the Wings have scored at least three goals.
Read more: Ken Holland makes argument to keep Howard
Brian Elliott — He was supposed to solve the Flames’ major weakness. But so far, he’s only exacerbated it. Elliott is a disastrous 3-9-0 with an .882 save percentage. A pending unrestricted free agent, this is not the way he wanted to start his time in Calgary. Lucky for the Flames that GM Brad Treliving signed a proven backup in Chad Johnson (5-3-1, .911), otherwise things could be even worse for Glen Gulutzan and company.
Jacob Markstrom/Ryan Miller — We’ll count these two as one, since they both play for Vancouver and they both have sub-.900 save percentages. The Canucks went into the season thinking that goaltending would be a strength of theirs. While that was the case early on, both Markstrom (5-3-2, .897) and Miller (2-7-0, .899) have struggled of late. While it’s certainly possible that the Canucks’ scoring issues caused the forwards and defensemen to cheat and get away from their structure, there have still been stoppable shots that have gotten past Markstrom and Miller. The Canucks aren’t good enough to win without solid goaltending. If they’re going to compete for a playoff spot, at least one of their netminders will have to get hot.
Related: What does the future hold for Ryan Miller?
Marc-Andre Fleury — Fleury allowed four goals in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers, dropping his record to 6-4-3 and save percentage to .907. Meanwhile, Matt Murray has been excellent, going 5-1-0 with a .945 save rate. We all know the deal here. The expansion draft is looming and the Penguins may need to trade Fleury in order to protect Murray. Fleury, 31, is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $5.75 million, so it would sure be advantageous to the Penguins if his numbers improved, especially if they try to trade him before the March 1 deadline.
Honorable mentions: Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen, Semyon Varlamov
*The Dallas Stars goalies do not qualify