Earlier tonight, I wondered aloud how different last year’s Philadelphia Flyers playoff run might have been if Sergei Bobrovsky’s struggles were handled with even half the patience that Ilya Bryzgalov has received in 2012. After allowing 17 goals in about 11 periods of hockey – including five through about 23 minutes tonight – Bryzgalov was pulled in favor of his lesser-paid Russian backup in the second period.
As you might expect, Bobrovsky isn’t going to change everything for Philly. In fact, he’s already allowed a puck to get by him, as Jordan Staal found the net on a power play to make it 6-3.
That being said, with the way this series has gone, he has a shot at winning the game if he’s perfect – or maybe just close to perfect – for the rest of the contest.
This brings up all kinds of interesting questions. If the Penguins end up winning but Bobrovsky keeps it respectable, should Bob be back in net for that theoretical Game 5? If the Flyers complete a dizzying fourth comeback, how much confidence can Philly really have in Bryzgalov going forward?
It’s a fascinating and developing situation to watch, so check it out on NBC Sports Network as we speak.
It’s understandable that the New Jersey Devils are going with Martin Brodeur as “their guy” instead of Johan Hedberg, but if you look at their numbers and not the names on their jerseys, “The Moose” has generally been better during the last two seasons. It’s unlikely that tonight’s bit of playing time will give him the same chance that Scott Clemmensen might receive in Jose Theodore’s wake, yet oddly enough, both goalies have now been pulled from what’s looking like a really weird Game 3.
Theodore only made it through 6:16 of game time before he was pulled after allowing three goals on just six shots. Brodeur gave way to Hedberg 2:18 into the second period, which gives him a more respectable 22:18 of playing time tonight. Brodeur also faced twice as many shots (nine saves on 12 attempts), so at least he wasn’t the worst netminder on the ice.
Oh, and as this post has been compiled, the Florida Panthers found the net again to take a 4-3 lead. Hedberg has allowed one goal on the four shots he’s seen, temporarily giving him the same save percentage as Brodeur’s (75 percent).
One can only imagine how John Tortorella would have felt about Hedberg and Brodeur’s work so far …
More than a few people believed that Scott Clemmensen should have been the Florida Panthers’ starter in the 2012 playoffs. The former New Jersey Devils backup will get a chance to thwart his old team after all, but it won’t be under the best circumstances. The Devils took just 6:16 to score three goals on six shots against Jose Theodore, prompting Kevin Dineen to give him the hook.
Clemmensen’s had some success against his former team now that he’s a Florida netminder and he finished the regular season stronger than Theodore, who was serenaded with a “Jose Jose Jose” chant that sounded a lot like the Montreal Canadiens’ “Ole!” ode.
This isn’t the only time Theodore’s had a really tough start in his playoff career. You might remember that Theo’s days with the Washington Capitals essentially came to an end when he allowed two goals on two shots by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Theo gave way to Semyon Varlamov and Varly went on to have a red-hot playoff start.
It might not be fair to judge Clemmensen too much one way or another if tonight’s contest follows this series’ first two games, though. In Game 1, the Devils built a 3-0 first period lead and held on for a 3-2 win. In Game 2, the Panthers took slightly longer to make it 3-0 themselves before getting a 3-2 victory of their own.
Florida has plenty of time to break this pattern, but Clemmensen will need to be sharp for the Panthers to have any chance.
When word surfaced that Craig Anderson was nearing a return, I felt a little silly (but still had to ask) if the Ottawa Senators could have a goalie controversy in the making. That question feels less ridiculous after tonight, however, as Anderson was pulled about five minutes into his first game back after allowing two goals on four shots.
It’s fair to say that it’s probably “just one of those games,” though. Erik Cole completed his natural hat trick less than a minute later, as Ben Bishop hasn’t fared much better so far (two goals allowed on eight shots in a little more than nine minutes of game time).
Update: in fact, Senators coach Paul MacLean opted to go back with Anderson after the first period ended. He allowed on more goal throughout the game (a Lars Eller mark in the final frame) as the Montreal Canadiens won 5-1, suddenly placing the Senators’ playoff hopes in doubt.
Still, the Senators are dealing with heightened expectations right now. The team might be taken more seriously considering their Erik Karlsson/Jason Spezza-fueled attack, but getting decent goaltending is key.
There could be some debate about which netminder would be best to get that done, then.
Forgive some Buffalo Sabres fans if they’re having trouble remembering the goalie who won the 2010 Vezina Trophy and nearly won a gold medal for the United States.
Ryan Miller’s among the many Buffalo Sabres who are struggling this season, but more often than not, a netminder’s issues are often the most obvious. The team’s franchise netminder was bounced from tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings after he allowed five goals on just 14 shots.
Lindy Ruff gave him that merciful hook 24:32 into the game, but this wasn’t the earliest he’s been pulled from a contest this season. Miller only made it through six minutes and 23 seconds of a Nov. 2 contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.
If the rest of the Sabres’ contest against Detroit goes as expected, Miller’s record will drop to 11-13-2. He came into Monday with the numbers of an average backup (.903 save percentage, 2.97 GAA) and those stats only figure to drop a bit more.
It’s unfair to blame Miller alone for this debacle of a season. He’s been bailing out Buffalo’s defense for years and it seems like the last couple campaigns have caught up with him.
Still, it’s tough not to wonder if some kind of change might happen if the slippage continues in Buffalo – even if Terry Pegula has been generous with excuses.
With that in mind, what would you do to fix this mess?