On Ducks, Blues and the goalie depth dynamic

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On Friday, Martin Brodeur practiced for the first time as a St. Louis Blue.

On Saturday, Jason LaBarbera suffered an upper-body injury in Anaheim’s loss to San Jose.

On the surface, these two incidents really don’t have much in common — but in a broader context, they really do.

Over the last few years, few organizations boasted more talent in goal than Anaheim and St. Louis. Just go back to 2012, for example: St. Louis had Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak, Ben Bishop and Jake Allen stockpiled in the organizational warehouse while Anaheim had Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen, John Gibson and Viktor Fasth (who they signed in May of that year).

Now, fast forward to the present.

Anaheim, having already moved on from Fasth and Hiller, rolled the dice on Andersen and Gibson as their tandem — despite the fact that, coming into this season, the two had 27 NHL starts between them.

“It’s funny how this business is,” said Ducks general manager Bob Murray said at the time (audio). “We go from having the deepest goaltending, everybody’s talking about it.

“Now, all of a sudden it’s the two kids.”

St. Louis made a similar move, albeit in slightly different fashion. This summer, the club opted not to retain Ryan Miller — acquired from Buffalo in a blockbuster move at the deadline, which saw Halak go the other way — and handed the reins to a veteran (Elliott) and prospect (Allen), neither of whom had much experience as a NHL starter.

“I don’t think I’ve ever coached two guys with less ego than these guys,” head coach Ken Hitchcock raved prior to the season, per the Post-Dispatch. “These guys have no ego. They just come to work and come to play and they’re receptive to information. They want to get better every day.

“This is about as low maintenance a tandem I’ve coached in my life, which is really nice for coaches.”

But then came the injuries.

The Ducks lost Gibson to a groin strain that’ll sideline him until late December. That forced them to recall LaBarbera and, with him now hurt, Igor Bobkov is on his way up to be Andersen’s No. 2.

The Blues, meanwhile, lost Elliott last week to a lower-body issue. That left them with Allen and AHL call-up Jordan Binnington as the lone netminders, which resulted in the Brodeur tryout.

As such, it’s hard not to look at what each team’s ex-goalies are doing elsewhere. Two years after the Blues dealt him away, Bishop has emerged as a star in Tampa Bay; Miller, meanwhile, is near the top of the league in wins with Vancouver.

Halak was just named the NHL’s first star of the week and has been a revelation for the Islanders, while Hiller been solid for a surprising Calgary team.

With all of that said, it’s important to remember a key facet of the Blues and Ducks leaning on their depth in net:

Financial freedom.

The Blues have just $3.3 million committed to Elliott and Allen this year, which allowed them the room to sign Paul Stastny in free agency (and bring back Jori Lehtera from the KHL, which has been an equally vital pickup.)  Anaheim has $1.85M locked into Andersen and Gibson, which provided the ability to absorb Ryan Kesler’s contract ($5M annually) while freeing up a good chunk of space should GM Bob Murray decide to add at the deadline.

What’s more, teams have won with inexpensive goalies before. Most will point to the Cup-winning ’08 Red Wings (Chris Osgood, $850K) and ’10 Blackhawks (Antti Niemi, $826K) — though both teams had expensive backups in Dominik Hasek and Cristobal Huet.

But it’s worth mentioning the Stanley Cup playoffs here, because that’s when the goalies in St. Louis and Anaheim will face the most questions. It’s been a position of weakness for both in recent postseasons — especially St. Louis, where Armstrong made the big Miller move last season to shore up what’s traditionally been a trouble spot.

“We gave up quite a bit to get Ryan and we felt as an organization that might be a piece that could push us deep and get us into the Stanley Cup and win us a Stanley Cup,” Armstrong said. “That’s why the trade was made.

“It didn’t work out that way, obviously.”

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.