Mind Your Own Net: Curry, Brown Battle for Position in Penguins' Goalie Ranks
I haven't written an article in too long to even remember what my last one was about. I apologize for my lackluster performance as of late, but the lack of Penguin news combined with the increasing gruelingness (I know, that's not a word, but it just sounds too good to replace) of the off-season has left me somewhat unmotivated.
Somewhere in one of my more recent articles, I discussed that the Pens would be opening their prospects camp in Kitchener, Ontario. That's where our story begins, or rather picks up...
It's no secret that Marc-Andre Fleury will be the franchise goalie for the Pens well into the future, but losing Ty Conklin to free agency has left a lot of people wondering what will happen if Fleury goes down with another injury similar to the ankle sprain that sidelined him for over a quarter of last season.
Dany Sabourin is the Pens' current backup goaltender. Sabou posted a 10-9-1 record with a 2.75 GAA and a .904 save percentage while splitting time with Ty Conklin in Fleury's absence last season. While Sabourin was expected to be the Penguins' new starter when Fleury went down, Ty Conklin stunned the world, and probably himself, by putting on one of the most impressive performances by a third string goaltender in recent memory.
Sabourin was once again relegated to the backup position, the same position in which he will begin the upcoming 2008-09 season. Not to mention, the 08-09 season will mark the final year of Sabou's current contract with the Pens, opening the door to the free agent market come next July.
So, with Sabourins' consistency and future in Pittsburgh both remaining uncertain, who else do the Penguins have in their system?
Enter John Curry and David Brown. Roommates, teammates, and rivals? Yes, rivals. Last season, both Curry and Brown played for the Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
In mid-December when Ty Conklin got the call from the big club, Curry stepped in, and never looked back. He posted a 24-12-3 record, 2.23 GAA and an impressive .915 save percentage during the regular season. Curry also led the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to the Calder Cup Final by winning 14 of 23 playoff games.
David Brown, former college star during his time with Notre Dame, split time between the AHL and the ECHL last season. It was his first professional season, but the hype surrounding him turned out to be greater than the actual product. A lot of people expected to Brown to immediately grab the starting job in the AHL and be backing up Fleury by the start of his second season.
While he didn't exactly have a bad season (15-13-2, 2.72 GAA), he didn't have one good enough to allow a promotion to the NHL to happen just yet.
The battle between these two goalies will continue this week as the Penguins' prospects head north of the border for camp and a rookie tournament which will pit them against other NHL teams' rookie squads.
It will be interesting to see if Curry or Brown eventually break into the NHL with the Penguins. Penguins' fans realized, more than a few times last season, that nothing is impossible. Losing your starting goaltender for over three months and watching some dude that looks like he probably went to high school with your dad carry your team isn't impossible.
Injuries happen very quickly and unexpectedly, so for Brown and Curry, you never know when we might be referring to them as Penguins instead of Baby Penguins.
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