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Friday, November 29, 2002
Goalie gains

By E.J. Hradek
ESPN The Magazine

Did you catch the SportsCentury Bio of the legendary Jacques Plante on ESPN Classic? They did a great job of capturing the quirky puckstopping star. The show got me thinking about goaltenders. So, here's three glove saves as we butterfly into another NHL weekend:

A kick ...
Dan Cloutier
Cloutier
Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier isn't showing any ill effects from his playoff collapse against the Red Wings last April. Coach Marc Crawford is showing total confidence in his 26-year-old goaltender, starting him in all but one of Vancouver's 22 games. Prior to Friday's tilt in Tampa Bay, Cloutier led the league with 13 wins. The ex-Lightning keeper carried a steady goals-against average (2.32) and save percentage (.911) into the battle with his former team. Behind Cloutier, the Canucks have won a franchise-record eight straight games. On Wednesday, Cloutier stopped 32 of 34 shots, including 13 in the final period, to lead the Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in Carolina.

... save ...
Chris Osgood
Osgood
It appears Islanders' netminder Chris Osgood has re-discovered his game. To those who know Osgood's history, it's really not a surprise. One GM who is very familiar with Ozzy told me the Isles' goalie usually has one extended slump during the season. "It's unexplainable," the GM said. "But, one day he wakes up and it's over." After a dreadful first month during which Osgood had trouble stopping a bowling ball, the 30-year-old goalie slowly has regained his usual form. In his last four starts, Osgood is 2-0-2 with a 2.14 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Not surprisingly, the Islanders are slowing making the long climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.

... and a beauty ...
Marty Turco
Turco
It looks like Dallas Stars' stopper Marty Turco can handle the No. 1 job. Going into Friday night's home game against the Rangers, the former University of Michigan goalkeeper led the league in goals-against average (1.56), save percentage (.938) and shutouts (4). The 27-year-old Turco, who has played in 19 of the club's 25 games, has been red hot of late, allowing just two goals in his last four games. Backed by Turco's strong play, the Stars stand atop the league standings with 35 points. Of course, the big test for all NHL goalies comes in the spring. Then, we'll find out just how good young Mr. Turco really is.

See you Monday.

E.J. Hradek writes hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ej.hradek@espnmag.com.