If there’s a building goaltending narrative in 2014-15, it’s been about netminders unexpectedly redeeming themselves or almost appearing out of the blue.
Devan Dubnyk went from a wayward soul last season to a possible Vezina nominee for the Minnesota Wild. The New York Rangers somehow didn’t miss a beat when Cam Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist. The question in Ottawa went from “Who is Andrew Hammond?” to “How do we beat him?”
It’s pretty early to add the man who was the Florida Panthers’ third goalie to the mix, but Dan Ellis certainly made a case that he should be in the argument with another strong performance Saturday.
Ellis stopped all 27 Carolina Hurricanes shots to grab a 2-0 win for Florida. He’s now currently on a three-game winning streak (and is 3-0-1 since taking over) after spending most of his year in the AHL.
Ellis, 34, comes into this situation in a fittingly weird way, as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured in the same odd game.
He doesn’t fit into the story of many others who were virtually unproven – Ellis now has 208 regular season games under his belt – yet the league soured enough on him that he wasn’t offered one of 60 NHL goaltending jobs to start 2014-15.
The Panthers still face a very, very long shot to get into the postseason, especially as Tuukka Rask really builds back into “totally worth $7 million” form.
If nothing else, it’s a cool story that follows an interesting pattern, though.
Skapski starts vs. Sabres
Mackenzie Skapski will make his second career NHL start tonight as the New York Rangers visit the Buffalo Sabres. The 20-year-old got his first NHL win with a 24 save performance defeating the Sabres 3-1 on Feb. 20. Skapski was 12-7-3 to go along with a .914 save percentage and a 2.38 in 24 AHL games prior to being recalled.
Anders Lindback gets the nod for Buffalo.
Blackhawks at Sharks: Corey Crawford vs. Antti Niemi
Leafs at Canucks: Jonathan Bernier vs. Eddie Lack
Panthers at Hurricanes: Dan Ellis vs. Cam Ward
Canadiens at Islanders: Carey Price vs. Michal Neuvirth
Jets at Lightning: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott
Devils at Coyotes:Cory Schneider vs. Mike Smith
Flames at Avalanche: Karri Ramo vs. Semyon Varlamov
Predators at Kings: Pekka Rinne vs. Jonathan Quick
With defenseman Tyler Myers expected to miss his first game due to an upper body injury, Paul Postma is will return to the Winnipeg Jets’ lineup against the Tampa May Lightning.
Myers was injured in Thursday’s loss to the Florida Panthers.
Jets’ coach Paul Maurice said the club expects to know more about Myers’ injury by Tuesday when he is checked out in Winnipeg.
“Some injuries take a few days before they settle down and before you can get a real good handle on where he’ll be going forward,” said Maurice per the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe.
Postma has been a healthy scratch in 27 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 8.
“Obviously it’s a tough one to go through, not only physically but mentally,” said Postma of being a scratch. “Getting that opportunity to be back in the lineup is awesome and I’m excited to be part of it.
“A big part of this game is confidence. Some days you have it, some you don’t. I have to have confidence in myself, know I’m here for a reason.”
The 26-year-old has two goals and six points to go along with a plus-2 rating while averaging 13:55 in ice time in 41 games this season.
He is expected to begin Saturday’s game paired with Mark Stuart.
Keaton Ellerby, who was recalled from the AHL on Friday, is expected to be a healthy scratch.
Winnipeg is 3-4-2 in its last nine and lost the only other meeting with Tampa Bay 4-2 on Oct. 24.
The recent slide has the Jets one point back of L.A. for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.