Seven goalies worth watching
We were talking to former NHL netminder Kevin Weekes, now a national -- dare we say ubiquitous -- broadcast analyst, about the pressures on the goaltending fraternity coming out of the lockout and directly into a 48-game sprint to the playoffs and beyond.
It's simple, Weekes said.
"A 48-game season is going to be very unforgiving," Weekes told ESPN.com. "You're not going to have that much time to really find a groove."
With that in mind, trying to handicap which goaltenders or goaltending tandems might be poised for a quick start is a bit difficult. First of all, it's not just who played during the lockout, but perhaps where they played and what their routines were like, how old they are and what the expectations are of them.
For goaltenders who weren't involved in game action, it's a question of being able to quickly adjust to reading game action as well as regaining their timing in much the same way that a hitter needs to see a lot of pitches in spring training to get his timing down, Weekes said.
For those who played elsewhere, it's about getting back into a routine that matches their team, their teammates and their systems.
Here is a look at seven goaltenders/goaltending tandems worth watching.Zach Parise signed in Minnesota and Rookie of the Year nominee Adam Henrique suffered an injury, both will have to be on their game when the curtain rises this weekend. Is that too much to ask of two men in the twilight of their respective careers? The answer to that question will speak volumes about the Devils' chances of returning to the playoffs.Ryan Suter in the Predators lineup, there will be some changes to the team's makeup, and Rinne will be counted on to be stellar from the get-go. Jonathan Bernier, who at one point was viewed as the Kings' goaltender of the future. It might not be a bad thing for Bernier to get some playing time early on, especially if GM Dean Lombardi plans to dangle the young netminder as trade bait later in the season.Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason might give him pause to consider McElhinney, who was outstanding for the Blue Jackets' AHL team in Springfield. McElhinney leads the AHL with six shutouts and was 17-5-2 with a .930 save percentage. "If Curtis McElhinney can come in and outperform [the incumbents], why not?" Weekes said. "I would leave all options on the table." Apparently the Blue Jackets, last in the NHL a season ago, don't see it that way as McElhinney remains with the Falcons, but that's not to say things won't change if Mason and/or Bobrovsky falters.Tim Thomas still under his self-imposed exile. But Rask should be in a good spot heading into the season, as he played in the Czech elite league with Plzen from the end of September until mid-December and posted good numbers without incurring a heavy workload. What is interesting is that Khudobin, who will act as Rask's backup, should be in a groove having played 26 games for a poor Moscow Oblast Atlant team, turning in a respectable 2.96 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
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