In case you missed it; part 1 of this series was The Atlantic Division. How are the goalies looking as the season ends? Let’s check out the Metropolitan Division (and continue to question how some of these places would be considered ‘Metro’)!
Carolina Hurricanes — Now that Marty Brodeur has retired, Cam Ward is the goalie you think of when you go “man, remember how great that Canadian goalie was that time for his team in the Finals? Yeah, I wonder when he retired — woah, wait, he’s still playing?!” As of March 27th, the 31-year-old has a save percentage of .910 and is 19-21-5. He still makes some pretty amazing saves though, including this one against the Penguins.
Anton Khudobin, the only Kazakhstani goalie now that Nabokov has retired, has a current save percentage of .903 and has played 31 games this season. He, along with teammate Andrej Nestrasil, sampled Girl Scout cookies for the first time (spoiler alert: Khudobin loves the Samoan ones so much that he stole the entire sleeve so he and I might be the same person) in a great video on the Canes website.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Poor Sergei Bobrovsky. He, like most of his team, was injured for most of this season and he was so frustrated during one of his first games back, that when a teammate screened a goal in front of him, he glared at the player and then threw his stick down. Oops? With Bob injured for most of this season, Curtis McElhinney has been a pretty steady backup. McElhinney had a terrible injury a few years ago that almost ended his career and “basically shredded (his) pelvis.”
New Jersey Devils – After being Thing 2 to Roberto Luongo and later on #2 to Brodeur and his legacy as a New Jersey Devil for years, this was Cory Schneider’s first season of playing as the starting goalie. And except for a few bad starts very early on, he has gotten stronger as the season has continued. As of March 25, Schneider’s record on the season is 26-27-8. However, as of March 29, Schneider has played 65 games, making him 3rd in the league in starts. His 2.19 goals-against average is good for 4th among goalies who have started more than 50 games. His save percentage of .928 makes him 3rd. Former goalie Steve Valiquette has been saying on MSG’s Hockey Night Live that given how good Schneider’s been playing and the potential length of time the Devils will probably be in the rebuilding process, he should consider getting out of New Jersey while he’s still young and hot.
Farmingville, Long Island’s own Keith Kinkaid (who grew up with the same Marty Brodeur poster on his wall that we all did) spent most of this season being Cory’s backup when he wasn’t injured by tweaking his groin in February. He also believes (and rightfully so) that he’ll be back next season with the Devils as he is part of their long-term plans.
New York Islanders – You may have heard that Chad “seriously, every time I saw the Islanders, in goal, it was” Johnson was super unhappy when he was traded to Buffalo, TSN actually asked him about helping the Sabres tank.
Since coming to Long Island in that trade, Michal Neuvirth is 1-2-1 with a current save percentage of .915. He hasn’t looked that good as an Islander, but that could just be nerves as a result of switching teams with less than two months remaining in the season. (However, when #IslesTwitter starts making I BELIEVE IN NEUVY buttons à la Harvey Dent, I hope I get some!)
If he wasn’t playing for the Islanders perhaps you’d hear more about Jaroslav Halak and his quiet attempt to change the perception of him as a goalie who has bounced around teams and used as trade-bait into the great goalie he was in Montreal all those years ago (or perhaps you’ll be hearing more about it once the postseason starts and the announcers rehash the same idea over and over again). After years of questionable goalies on the Island (except for Nabokov [who I will fight every single Islanders fan over] whose only reason for doing so poorly in the 2013 postseason was because he was the work horse that won them so many games during the regular season to even get them into the playoffs!), Halak is 35-16-2 with a save percentage of .915 and while he has had a history of injuries (what goalie doesn’t?), some are concerned about what that means going into the playoffs with him leading the goalie battery.
New York Rangers – Did you hear about Henrik Lundqvist? His show ‘The Mask with Henrik Lundqvist‘ is going great (and even if you don’t get the MSG channel, you can watch the episodes on their website. Trust me as a Devils fan, if you like Henrik Lundqvist, you’ll love watching his life flash before his eyes when he’s driving with NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon or him struggling to figure out how to DJ with DJ Tiesto.) It’s a show where Hank talks to his famous friends or people that he admires and they make an awesome (or weird) goalie mask to be worn with all the proceeds going to charity. Or maybe you heard that he and his wife had another daughter. Or, maybe you heard about that weird, wacky, frightening and scary injury that he had in a game on Jan. 31st? A vascular injury that could’ve led to a stroke?? Well. His first game back didn’t go very well on Saturday March 28th against the Bruins (final score was 4-2), but his backups have been nothing short of amazing.
Cam Talbot, 27, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was mainly known as being “the goalie with the awesome Ghostbusters mask,” however, after Lundqvist went down with his injury, Talbot, was 16-4-3, with a 2.16 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and two shutouts as of March 28th. There have even been many think-pieces about who should be in goal for the Rangers going into the playoffs — Talbot or Lundqvist. Most of them were written by NYC’s rag newspapers, but this one in Medium has the best comparison of the two goalies.
Their third goalie this season is Mackenzie Skapski who could be an East Coast Eddie Lack in that every time the cameras caught him, he couldn’t stop smiling–even when the team was losing–just because he was so happy to be on the bench. One of those reasons is because a few years ago, he was in a terrible accident and things could’ve been much worse for the promising goalie. Of course, he isn’t just a happy face — as he played in two games this season (both against Buffalo) — and he won both of them, including his first NHL game, which was also his first NHL shutout and his first NHL win which afterwards earned him a shaving cream pie to the face. He also seems to look a lot like a famous actor as Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) noticed.
Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers and their goalie situation is always magical. Magical, in this case, is not always a positive. Steve Mason (who, much like Schneider in Newark, has been the surprising thing keeping an otherwise bad team afloat) was injured sometime in February and had surgery on Feb. 10th to repair his right knee. He told the Flyers reporters that he’d only play if it was a super desperate situation and on the 26th, Craig Berube put him in a game against the Maple Leafs after Rob Zepp gave up 2 first-period goals. Not exactly a ‘desperate’ situation. And in early March, the Flyers parted ways with their goaltending coach, Jeff Reese. According to a Philly.com article; The real reason for Reese’s departure, according to a Philadelphia Daily News report, was that Reese had dared to support Mason and question the Flyers’ handling of his injuries. This was no minor move for Mason: He had been a lost soul over his final three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Reese had helped him rebuild his career in Philadelphia.
Better goalie news for the Flyers? With Mason’s injury, Rob Zepp was the feel-good story of the winter as he made his NHL debut for the Flyers at age 33. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999 but spent most of his career in the ECHL and Europe where Danny Briere and Claude Giroux had spoken very highly of him as he was their teammate during the lockout in Berlin for Eisbären Berlin. In 10 games played, before going back to the Flyers AHL team after Mason’s healthy return, he was 5-2-0 with a save percentage of .888. During that stretch, he won some pretty big games against the Predators and Capitals.
And Ray Emery has a one year deal that ends this season where he is 10-10-6 in 29 games played.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc Andre Fleury is doing his usual “you are the best/you are the worst goalie in this game” that drive Pens fans (and the people who love them) insane around this time of the year. As of March 29th, his save percentage is .921 and he’s 32-17-8 as well as breaking a Penguins’ record with his nine shutouts this season. Of course, none of this will matter for most fans of Flower and the Penguins if his postseason stats aren’t as good.
Thomas Greiss is one of a handful of NHLers from Germany (West Germany, in fact, as he was born in the 1980s) and is most famous for being the youngest goalie in the 2006 Winter Olympics tournament at age 20, where he had a 35-save performance on 40 shots against Team Canada. He has a one-year contract with the Pens after playing as Mike Smith’s backup last season. He’s played 9-5-0 and has a save percentage of .913 (but, again, much like with Fleury, what will really matter will be how he does in the postseason). He’s also most famous (in my world) for making a drunk Devils’ fan believe I was a Penguins fan because I actually knew who he was (Tomas Vokoun retired so I have no goalie to love unconditionally anymore; I might as well join the German bandwagon!). Also on March 29th, he won 3-2 against his former team the Coyotes.
Washington Capitals – Braden Holtby is still one of the best emotional and .gif worthy goalies of the Twitter golden age. On March 28th, Holtby gave up three goals in the 1st period to the Nashville Predators and was pulled from the game for Justin Peters (the Preds ended up winning 4-3). The next day, in Madison Square Garden, Holtby was back in net with the Caps winning 5-2 and he was the 3rd star of the game. While not as consistently inconsistent like Marc Andre Fleury, Holtby’s ability to bounce back will be good if the team makes it to the postseason. Justin Peters (née the Carolina Hurricanes) is his backup and has a glow-in-the-dark Abe Lincoln dog themed mask. Yes. I know what words I just put together into a sentence. Goalies are magic.